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Thousands of Sonoma County residents lose power in outages caused by storm

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Thousands of homes and businesses in Sonoma County lost power Tuesday because of several outages caused by the strong winter storm.

Outages across the county caused 6,400 customers to lose power Tuesday, PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said.

PG&E estimated that 2,800 of 4,490 customers in Santa Rosa — the city most affected by the power loss — were expected to have power restored by midnight Tuesday, Guidi said, though he didn’t know when the remaining customers would be restored.

After Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay was most affected by the outages, with 1,560 customers without power Tuesday night, Guidi said. Half of those customers lost power about 2 p.m., and the remaining ones were left in the dark just before 5 p.m.

There were several other outages reported earlier in the day, including one that caused 5,000 customers west of Highway 101 to Highway 116 and north of Todd Road to lose power about 2:26 p.m., though PG&E reported that all power was restored about three hours later. Still, some customers in the area again lost power later that evening.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said crews had yet to determine what exactly caused that earlier outage, as the storm could have affected both underground and overhead equipment. A PG&E first responder was assessing the damage, Sarkissian said.

“We’re starting to see some of the effects of the wind and rain at this point and we do have crews standing by ready to address any issues that customers are experiencing,” Sarkissian said. “We’re prepared for this storm.”

Sarkissian said PG&E meteorologists expected the North Bay, specifically Sonoma County, would be most heavily affected by the storm Tuesday night.

While the details of the outages are still under investigation, Sarkissian said during the first mist or rain after a dry season, the rainfall can turn dust, dirt, salt and other substances that have accumulated on power lines into mud. Because mud conducts electricity, it can damage electrical equipment and potentially result in pole fires, which can lead to unexpected outages.

PG&E advised residents that several traffic lights may not be functioning because of the outages, reminding them to use caution and treat those intersections as four-way stops.

Below is a map of where the western Santa Rosa outage is located:

You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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