Powerful winds returned to Palo Alto on Tuesday, knocking out electricity for thousands of utilities customers, many of whom saw their service return that night. Another outage on Wednesday impacted more than 4,000 customers, according to the Utilities Department.
The latest outage was reported at 7:18 a.m. Wednesday when about 4,481 customers lost power in multiple neighborhoods. Service came back for all but 1,064 of those customers by 7:41 a.m. By about 9 a.m., just 116 customers remained without electrical service, the Utilities Department said. A total of 132 customers impacted by Wednesday's outage were still without power shortly before 1 p.m. and the number dropped to 25 as of 5 p.m. The outage was caused by a failed underground switch. The remaining customers had service back by the end of the day.
Multiple outages were reported across the city on Tuesday, leaving thousands in the dark starting in the afternoon. Service gradually returned during the evening and nighttime hours. As of Wednesday shortly after 1 p.m., 43 customers affected by Tuesday's outages remain without power and were expected to get service back around 9 p.m. Wednesday. The outages were caused by "a bad subsurface switch," the Utilities Department tweeted.
The city has kept a close eye on the storm. Initially, the flood risk was low on Tuesday night, but by about 11 p.m. the chances were uncertain, according to the city's storm updates. By Wednesday morning, the city reported that creek levels had dropped, conditions were stable and no roads were closed. A flood advisory, however, remained in effect as of 7:30 a.m.
The Police Department advised the public to be cautious when traveling around town due to roadway debris and inactive traffic lights as the weather event continued overnight.
Classes will go on as scheduled on Wednesday at Palo Alto Unified schools, which have electrical service, the school district posted on its website.
Power outages pile up on Tuesday
Utilities crews were sent out to address the outages. The city's outage map showed 2,080 utilities customers in the 94301 ZIP code, which covers the northern end of the city, saw their power go out at 1:17 p.m.
At around 1:30 p.m., there was a report of wires down in the 100 block of Emerson Street near Palo Alto Avenue, which falls under the 94301 ZIP code, emergency crews said through radio dispatch reports. Firefighters were on scene for about 10 minutes, according to PulsePoint, an app that display emergency calls.
Another large outage was reported in the central to southern end of the city, west of Middlefield Road, where about 1,800 customers lost power at 1:20 p.m.
Wires were also reportedly down in the 3700 block of Louis Road near East Meadow Drive around 1:30 p.m., according to emergency radio dispatch reports. A large tree also came down in the area.
Other, small-scale outages have been reported across the city, with some affecting about a few dozen customers. There was also an outage that left 445 customers without power in the 94303 ZIP code starting at 1:43 p.m., the city's outage map shows.
As of about 2:20 p.m., traffic lights went black at Churchill Avenue and El Camino Real, as well as Greer Road and Oregon Expressway, emergency dispatchers said.
Shortly before 4 p.m., power was back for about 2,000 utilities customers in the southern end of the city, according to the Utilities Department. As of 4:33 p.m., roughly 1,810 customers remained without service. The number of customers without power dropped down to 749 by 7:20 p.m. and 249 around 10 p.m.
A wind advisory was in effect across the region through 9 p.m. Wednesday. The Palo Alto Airport saw winds climb up to 59 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Neighboring cities have also been hit by power outages. As of around 2:30 p.m., 3,581 PG&E customers in East Palo Alto were without power. Out of that total, 2,245 customers were in the neighborhoods east of East Bayshore Road to the bay, as well as some neighborhoods south of University Avenue and West Bayshore Road, where power went out at 1:05 p.m. The remaining 1,336 customers were in the area of East Bayshore Road, east of Bay Road to Willow Road, and in neighborhoods east of Bay Road, where they lost power at 1:21 p.m. PG&E estimates power will be restored at 9:24 p.m.
Downed wires led the following roads to be closed in East Palo Alto: eastbound University Avenue roughly between Notre Dame Avenue and the Dumbarton Bridge, as well as Cooley Avenue at Donohoe Street.
Outages across Stanford led the university to cancel final exams scheduled for Tuesday evening, the university tweeted. Service returned to all parts of the campus as of 8:55 p.m., with the exception of the Upper Row houses and residences in the faculty subdivision, which are served by PG&E. In-person exams are expected to continue as scheduled on Wednesday.
The fierce winds from Tuesday's atmospheric river put thousands of Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton residents in the dark. About 3,000 PG&E customers lost power in Mountain View as of early Tuesday afternoon.
The outages come a week after a strong gusts took down trees, which led to significant power outages that impacted thousands of utilities customers across the region on March 14.
Storm results in fatal crash, delays for transit and flights
In Ladera, a man died when a tree came down on his van during steady rain and winds on Tuesday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was traveling east on Alpine Road near La Cuesta Road when high winds knocked down a large tree that fell on his car, CHP Officer David LaRock said.
The gusty and stormy conditions have also impacted local transit. The entrance to the Palo Alto Transit Center was closed due to a tree that came down, according to SamTrans, which warned of delays on routes 280, 281, 296 and ECR as of 2:45 p.m. A detour was set up in the area until about 3:30 p.m., when one lane opened along University Avenue.
Bay Area airports have reported flight delays and cancellations Tuesday due to wet and windy weather conditions.
About 300 flights have been delayed and 27 flights have been canceled at San Francisco International Airport. The delays at SFO average about 70 minutes.
Oakland International Airport has reported one canceled arrival and 24 delayed departures over 30 minutes. The airport has no canceled departures.
San Jose Mineta International Airport is experiencing minimal delays along with one canceled arrival and one canceled departure due to weather conditions. The airport has also supported five diversions due to weather at other airports.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.