"The strongest winds of the season up to this point are forecast for early Wednesday morning through Thursday for much of interior Northern California due to a low pressure system digging into the Great Basin region", an NWS forecast said.
A public safety power shutoff event by PG&E will black out almost 800,000 customers across 34 Northern California counties starting Wednesday, the utility confirmed in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
PG&E cast the blackouts as a matter of public safety, aimed at preventing the kind of blazes that have killed scores of people over the past couple of years, destroyed thousands of homes, and run up tens of billions of dollars in claims that drove the utility into bankruptcy.
The California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection said Wednesday its firefighters are "staffing up and preparing" and warned that "we need Californians to not be complacent", since "some of the most destructive and deadliest fires" happen between October through December.
And power will take several days to restore as the company inspects its equipment to make sure there's no damage, he said.
Nearly all home solar systems are tied into the local power company's power grid, so the customer can feed solar back into the system and get paid for the electricity their solar panels produce.
Wildfire-prevention power shutoffs affecting thousands of people in northern and central California could spread to other parts of the state where gusty and dry conditions are expected.
What's left of a staircase stands in a burning home as the Camp fire tore through Paradise, north of Sacramento, California last November.
"It's been so hard for us to have class and continue with school throughout the power outage because really everything we do runs on power", Norman said.
Michael Lewis, senior vice president for PG&E's electric operations, apologized in advance for the chaos the sweeping outages were likely to cause.
The electric company says the Public Safety Power Shutoff will be done in three phases.
A second phase of the "public safety power shutoff" was slated to begin at midday, extending cutoffs to another 234,000 customers, the utility said, and it was considering a third phase for 42,000 more homes and businesses.
The city of San Francisco isn't covered by PG&E's shutoffs. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a PSPS.
Pacific Gas & Electric began turning off power for residents around midnight on Tuesday due to strong winds that could knock over power lines, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of six previous such power cuts, the largest occurred a year ago and affected 60,000 customers.
People can find out if their area is affected by visiting PG&E's website.