Airports, PG&E Brace for Strong Winds

The National Weather Service predicts gusts could reach 60 to 70 mph

Bay City News--Bay Area airports are experiencing delays because of fog and preparing for strong winds over the next couple of days.

PG&E is also preparing for the strong winds that are expected to hit the
Bay Area by Wednesday afternoon or evening.

San Francisco International Airport is on a ground delay program as the cloud ceiling continues to lower, SFO spokeswoman Nancy Parker said.

Departures from SFO heading to the East Coast have been impacted
with an average of two-hour delays. Arrivals were delayed by about 70 minutes Tuesday evening from all U.S. locations until 9 p.m.

Passengers are urged to check with their carriers before departing for the airport, Parker said.

Many arrivals and departures were also delayed Tuesday morning at San
Jose International Airport from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and five flights were
canceled, said San Jose International Airport spokesman David Vossbrink.

With weather reports predicting gusts of wind up to 45 mph in the San Jose area, "We'll be looking for wind shear," Vossbrink said, describing random bursts of wind that blow across the runways.

At Oakland International Airport, the fog was also dense, but all flights were running as scheduled by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Power Outages Possible

Meanwhile, PG&E is anticipating some power outages if the wind storm
produces the 60 mph gusts that weather forecasters are predicting, PG&E
spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Tuesday.

The National Weather Service has issued a high-wind warning for
the Bay Area that will be in effect for Wednesday and Thursday as a dry
weather system moves through the region, weather service forecaster Duane Dykema said.

"It's not really what most people would consider a 'storm,'" Dykema said Tuesday morning. He said rain is not expected but that gusts of 60 to 70 mph are anticipated at higher elevations, with gusts of 40 to 45 mph in lower-lying areas.

"It's going to be really blustery almost everywhere," he said.

Sarkissian said PG&E spends more than $180 million annually to inspect more than 130,000 miles of power lines in its service area from Eureka to Bakersfield to make sure they are safe.

Although the utility focuses in particular on trimming unhealthy tree limbs that overhang power lines, it also monitors healthy limbs that pose a threat, she said.

Of the power outages in PG&E's service area, 13 percent are caused
by tree limbs that fall onto power lines. Of those, 90 percent are caused by
healthy tree branches, she said.

Customers reporting power outages can call PG&E at 800-743-5002.

People who encounter a downed power line should assume it is live,
keep a safe distance away and call 911 and PG&E, Sarkissian said.
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