10,000-plus lose power in 2 outages

While Valley residents lost no sleep over the recent rains, more than 10,000 PG&E customers lost power at one time or another over the weekend.

Friday night, 6,133 customers in Sonoma and into the Springs lost power for up to five hours when a switch failed at an underground vault on Fifth Street West just north of West Napa Street and adjacent to the parking lot in front of Sonoma Market. Most of the west side was in the dark when two circuits went out, according to Jana Morris, a PG&E spokesperson.

Some residents had their power restored in about two hours, while the last was restored at 2:51 a.m. One motorist called the power outage eerie, saying that while the stoplights at Fifth Street West and West Napa Street were working, that was the only light she saw. She said she couldn’t see either Safeway or Sonoma Market in the darkness.

PG&E workers were at the vault for a number of hours Saturday, replacing parts and filling more than a quarter of the busy market’s parking lot with trucks and a big, 18-wheel tanker, into which they were pumping the water and oil that had flooded the underground vault.

While crews worked at the vault on Fifth Street West, up-Valley customers had their power go out at about 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

That outage wasn’t caused by the rains, but by a truck driver who ran off the road and sheared off a power pole on Highway 12 just north of Madrone Road.

Some 4,269 customers in the Springs and Glen Ellen lost power in the incident. PG&E had to replace the pole. Almost 1,600 customers had their power restored by about 4:40 p.m., Morris said. Another 2,100 had their power restored by about 6:25 p.m. Power was gradually restored for other customers and the last 96 customers had their power back by 1:40 a.m.

The Valley did receive 1.14 inches of rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although most of it came Friday with .99 inches measured at the Vallejo Home on West Spain Street.

From July 1 through Jan. 31, the Valley received only 1.94 inches of rain – way under the 16.62 inches usually measured by the end of January. But in February, when average rainfall is 5.16 inches, the Valley got just over 13 inches.

And there is more rain on the way, but nothing like what arrived two weeks ago.

Austin Cross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey, said storms were expected overnight Monday and then again on Wednesday. But he thought the North Bay would get about a half-inch of rain out of each system, although he said there would be more in the North Bay hills.

“It’s nothing compared with last week,” he said. “But we’ll get another system before the end of the coming weekend.”

As of Sunday, the water supply pool at Lake Sonoma, which feeds the Russian River downstream of Healdsburg,stood at 170,174-acre-feet, which is 69.5 percent of capacity, while Lake Mendocino, which feeds Ukiah, Cloverdale and Healdsburg, among other customers, held 30,422 acre-feet of storage, or 44.1 percent of capacity.

Most of Sonoma’s contracted water supply, some 3,000 acre feet, comes from storage in Lake Sonoma. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.