Photos of weekend snow damage in the Willow Creek area from PG&E.


Some of the Willow Creek-area residents who have been without power since the weekend snowstorms got a bit of a shock, recently, when they looked at PG&E’s outage map and saw that the utility wasn’t planning to have power back up to their homes until … Jan. 14?!?

A quick exchange of emails with PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras confirmed that they don’t actually expect it to take that long. They were recently able to get a helicopter up to fly the transmission line that serves the area, and they’re expecting to start bringing customers back online “in batches” soon.

Full situation reprt from Contreras below:

Crews were able to complete damage repairs and restore power to thousands of customers Wednesday night in Garberville, Bridgeville, Petrolia and areas in Willow Creek after Sunday nights severe winter storm. The heavy snowpack and the large number of trees that have fallen on power lines and electrical equipment caused thousands of customers to lose power along the North Coast. We have not seen this many fallen trees, causing power outages in more than 15 years. The last time Northern California had storms of this magnitude was back in 2016, our last relatively wet water year in recent years. Snowfall totals associated with this storm have in some cases broken snow accumulation records for the month of December.

Crews are still working safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to the remaining customers in Willow Creek, Hoopa and some in Laytonville, as well as Trinity County. Now that conditions have cleared and we have been able to fly a helicopter to inspect our lines for damage for the first time, we have made assessments on Cahto Peak and Bell Springs Road. That means the remaining customers in the Laytonville area are expected to receive power tonight.

Same with Willow Creek and Hoopa. We were able to inpsect that transmission line that serves those customers today for the first time with a helicopter and found multiple instances of damage that we can’t see from the ground. We will begin restoring the remaining customers in Willow Creek in small batches, as repairs are made. All customers will be restored when there are zero locations of damages on the entire transmission line.

Also going into Trinity County, there are hundreds of customers who are without power and we have been contacting them to let them know they may be without power at least through the weekend. Those are the areas (as well as Willow Creek) where the ETOR [estimated time of restoral] says January 10 or even January 14, and that is based on earlier data. PG&E has been sending initial estimated times of restoration to impacted customers to help them plan and prepare. These dates are based on initial assessments and the dates are likely to change as we gain access, survey damage and continue the restoration progress. We have scores of crews working alongside other first responders and we will not stop until every customer is restored from the powerful holiday winter storm.

Again, we DO expect those dates to change as we have been able to gain access to more areas, are able to use additional resources (such as helicopters and more snowcats) and the hazardous conditions have dissipated.

Dangers associated with this system have included trees still falling, high avalanche danger, cold temperatures, travel risks over mountain passes and highways. Strong storm conditions were resulting in inaccessibility to reach damaged equipment due to snow, downed trees and other hazards.

Out of the approx. 3,000 customers without power in Humboldt and Trinity Counties, here’s a look at the number of customers currently impacted in the hardest hit areas:

  • Blue Lake – 96 customers
  • Bridgeville – 186 customers; ETOR by Friday night
  • Burnt Ranch – 454
  • Hoopa – 185 customers
  • Mad River – 24 customers impacted; ETOR by Sunday night
  • Orleans – 27 customers; ETOR by Sunday night
  • Salyer – 452 customers
  • Willow Creek – currently 930 customers impacted
  • Zenia – 68 customers by tomorrow night