P91027The electricity is still on here at 8:20 p.m.. I just turned the lights off to get the cool picture above. The outages in this region were scheduled to begin twenty minutes ago, so the electricity could be disconnected here at any moment. I may not finish writing and scheduling this to post later at midnight before that happens. So, if you are not reading this presently, you know why.

Before you waste another second thinking about that, I will tell you now that it makes no sense.

Scheduled electrical outages are now one of the consequences of living in this excellent place. We live with trees. Some of these trees are the biggest in the World. Some are very combustible. Regardless of the diligence of those who prune trees to maintain clearance from utility cables, big trees are likely to drop limbs onto cables, causing sparks that can ignite combustible trees.

The electricity just went out at 8:40 p.m..

As I was saying, we also live with weather. It happens to be excellent weather. It is pleasantly warm through summer, with minimal humidity and an almost constant cooling breeze. When the weather gets a bit too warm, it compensates with lower humidity and increased breeze. Unfortunately, this combination of weather is precisely what accelerates the worst of forest fires.

Scheduled electrical outages are intended to coincide with forecasts of weather conditions that are dangerously conducive to the initiation and perpetuation of forest fires. As inconvenient as they are, such outages are a sensible precaution.

The smoke that made such a colorful sunset earlier is from a fire in nearby forests, on the southern coast of San Mateo County.

Now, I will go to town to see if I can find someplace to get online to schedule this for midnight.

35 thoughts on “Midnight Oil

  1. I didn’t know that power outages were scheduled … it’s amazing and of course reassuring to avoid fires. But don’t you think that people who light candles or lanterns could make fires more logically?
    And to prepare the meal, it takes energy … bbq, gas bottle … just as dangerous.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If it’s any comfort, I think most of the country would agree with you. Scheduling outages is absurd and from what we seem to be observing, they’re not even helping. So sorry when foolishness reigns.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I did not mean to imply that I believe it to be absurd. Most of us willingly tolerate the outages because we know how combustible the forest is right now. Some of the fires that were caused by utility cables were started prior to the outages. The situation could have been much worse if the electricity had not been disabled.


    1. Most of us are pleased that the electricity is disabled. Those who are not are generally not from California, or are just too sheltered in their urban lifestyles to understand how combustible the forests are. I noticed earlier that those I encountered who were angry about the outages were not experiencing outages in their particular regions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. It has not been bad for us here. This area has not been burned since the 1950s, but is littered with charred carcasses of redwoods to remind us that it will eventually burn again. Coincidentally, while most forests become more combustible as they mature, redwood forests eventually become less combustible as they crows out more combustible species. That will not likely happen during my lifetime.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Some of us use solar, but it will not eliminate the cables to go to neighbors who lack solar. I just did without electricity, and charged the telephone an computer in the car on the way into town. I used the WiFi at work.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I was thinking this morning before I read this that PG&E has done a relatively poor job of maintaining its infrastructure and that in order not to be blamed for fires, they’re turning the power off. Of course, it’s tinder box dry in a lot of areas, so it makes sense. I was remembering the nightmare of electricity privatization a few years ago (more than a few, now, 90’s maybe?). California has been through a lot with fires and electricity and high bills.

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    1. With all of the people who live here now, and their expectation of reliable electrical service, utility cables extend into situations where they really should be turned off when weather warrants it. It was not so hazardous when the region was sparsely populated, and those who lived in isolated places just lacked electricity.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes; fires are quite natural here. People who move here do not seem to understand that; and most of everyone here is from somewhere else. Fires are more dangerous now because they are not as frequent. The forests become more combustible as they age. Forests that burn regularly are fresh and less combustible. Redwood forests are very different because they are not naturally very combustible. However, they are combustible now because they were clear cut harvested a century ago, and regenerated with a mix of more combustible species. Serious vegetation management and selective harvesting would help, but those are unpopular concepts here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just saw reports of a HUGE evacuation area, going all the way to the coast. If I’m correct, you’re south of that area, but I do hope you’re safe. I know it’s inconvenient and controversial to have the power off, but if it prevents more conflagration, perhaps it’s worth it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, it is so worth it. Incidentally, the most complaints I hear are from those in urban areas, where the electricity is not disabled. I am not concerned with the controversy. I am pleased that Pacific Gas and Electricity is being proactive. There are neither evacuations nor fires here yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so glad to see you say this. It is good to see PG&E be proactive — I hope it helps. The reports we see are that people are furious, and that the fires have started just before the power was turned off or just on the edge of outages where turning it off caused a failure in the connections. I sincerely hope they can solve the problem of all those transmission lines!

        Liked by 1 person

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