News

Windy weather and a car crash blamed for widespread power outages in Atherton, Menlo Park

In Atherton, one utility pole was struck by a tree, another by a vehicle

Crews work to remove a downed tree that has damaged a power line on Atherton Avenue in Atherton on Jan. 9, 2023. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Power outages hit affected thousands in neighborhoods throughout the Midpeninsula on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 21, as high winds affected the region. In Atherton, several roads were closed after downed trees and a vehicle hit two different utility poles.

Pacific Gas & Electric's outage map showed sizable swaths of Menlo Park and Atherton without electricity, as well as portions of East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Stanford and Mountain View.

A possible live wire on University Avenue has led East Palo Alto police to block the roadway between Purdue Avenue and Bayfront Expressway. They advised the public at around 5 p.m. to take alternate routes due to the road closure, which has also prevented access to and from the Dumbarton Bridge via University Avenue, police said. A PG&E crew has been called to the scene to address the live wire.

For many of the outages, PG&E's preliminary determination of the cause was the weather.

PG&E's power outage map shows large areas of Atherton and Menlo Park on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 21, 2023. Source: PG&E Outage Map.

A tree hit a utility pole on Selby Lane in Atherton, closing traffic in both directions from Austin Avenue to Logan Lane, according to a 1:54 p.m. police news bulletin.

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As of about 4 p.m. two roads were shut down because of fallen trees. Alameda de Las Pulgas was closed in both directions at Stevick Drive because another tree fell and blocked a driveway, according to police. Laburnum Road is closed in both directions between Catalpa Drive and Magnolia Drive because a tree is blocking the roadway. James Avenue is closed in both directions at Heather Drive because of a downed tree.

Fallen tree limbs had also blocked a portion of El Camino Real at Atherton Avenue in Atherton, according to Ryan Molinari, who was driving through the area.

A car hit a power pole on Marsh Road, closing it in both directions from Middlefield Road to Fair Oaks Avenue, according to a 1:50 p.m. news bulletin. By 6:10 p.m., Marsh Road had reopened. Atherton Police Cmdr. Dan Larsen said there were no injuries in the crash.

Power has been out for about 3,500 PG&E customers in central Atherton since 12:30 p.m., according to PG&E's website. About 1,000 more customers are out of power around Valparaiso Avenue where Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, and Menlo School are located. About 1,900 are without power near Marsh Road.

The Atherton library was offering limited service Tuesday afternoon due to the power outage, according to a tweet from the San Mateo County Library account.

San Mateo County District 4 Supervisor Warren Slocum shared a photo of a tree just came crashing down in his Redwood City backyard.

In East Palo Alto, multiple outages affecting more than 7,279 customers began in three waves at 2:10 p.m., 2:25 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.

Stanford and surrounding foothill areas had 3,366 customers without power starting at 12:29 p.m. The core campus outage area stretched from the east side of the Oval west to Stanford Avenue. Much of the campus bordering Sand Hill Road to Page Mill Road and bounded by Junipero Serra Boulevard were also without power. Pockets of the interior campus have thus far been spared. Members of the Stanford community impacted by the outage can find assistance at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons or Lagunita Dining, the university said in an alert.

Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospitals and Stanford Shopping Center still have power as of late Tuesday afternoon.

PG&E does not yet have estimated times when power will be restored.

A wind advisory will be in effect from Tuesday afternoon through midday Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Gusts of 40 to 55 mph are expected in some areas and 65 mph on the region's higher peaks.

The city of Menlo Park asked people to report downed trees to 650-330-6780 during business hours. An advisory from the city warned of downed power lines and trees due to high winds, and asked residents to put their garbage and recyclable bins in an enclosed area to avoid debris blowing around and potentially causing injuries.

At 6 p.m., the city of Menlo Park reported several intersections were experiencing signal light power outages: Ravenswood Avenue at Laurel Street; Middlefield Road at Ringwood Avenue; Willow Road at Hamilton Avenue and Sand Hill Road at Oak Avenue.

Palo Alto Weekly and Almanac staff contributed to this report.

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Windy weather and a car crash blamed for widespread power outages in Atherton, Menlo Park

In Atherton, one utility pole was struck by a tree, another by a vehicle

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 21, 2023, 3:07 pm
Updated: Tue, Feb 21, 2023, 5:49 pm

Power outages hit affected thousands in neighborhoods throughout the Midpeninsula on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 21, as high winds affected the region. In Atherton, several roads were closed after downed trees and a vehicle hit two different utility poles.

Pacific Gas & Electric's outage map showed sizable swaths of Menlo Park and Atherton without electricity, as well as portions of East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Stanford and Mountain View.

A possible live wire on University Avenue has led East Palo Alto police to block the roadway between Purdue Avenue and Bayfront Expressway. They advised the public at around 5 p.m. to take alternate routes due to the road closure, which has also prevented access to and from the Dumbarton Bridge via University Avenue, police said. A PG&E crew has been called to the scene to address the live wire.

For many of the outages, PG&E's preliminary determination of the cause was the weather.

A tree hit a utility pole on Selby Lane in Atherton, closing traffic in both directions from Austin Avenue to Logan Lane, according to a 1:54 p.m. police news bulletin.

As of about 4 p.m. two roads were shut down because of fallen trees. Alameda de Las Pulgas was closed in both directions at Stevick Drive because another tree fell and blocked a driveway, according to police. Laburnum Road is closed in both directions between Catalpa Drive and Magnolia Drive because a tree is blocking the roadway. James Avenue is closed in both directions at Heather Drive because of a downed tree.

Fallen tree limbs had also blocked a portion of El Camino Real at Atherton Avenue in Atherton, according to Ryan Molinari, who was driving through the area.

A car hit a power pole on Marsh Road, closing it in both directions from Middlefield Road to Fair Oaks Avenue, according to a 1:50 p.m. news bulletin. By 6:10 p.m., Marsh Road had reopened. Atherton Police Cmdr. Dan Larsen said there were no injuries in the crash.

Power has been out for about 3,500 PG&E customers in central Atherton since 12:30 p.m., according to PG&E's website. About 1,000 more customers are out of power around Valparaiso Avenue where Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, and Menlo School are located. About 1,900 are without power near Marsh Road.

The Atherton library was offering limited service Tuesday afternoon due to the power outage, according to a tweet from the San Mateo County Library account.

In East Palo Alto, multiple outages affecting more than 7,279 customers began in three waves at 2:10 p.m., 2:25 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.

Stanford and surrounding foothill areas had 3,366 customers without power starting at 12:29 p.m. The core campus outage area stretched from the east side of the Oval west to Stanford Avenue. Much of the campus bordering Sand Hill Road to Page Mill Road and bounded by Junipero Serra Boulevard were also without power. Pockets of the interior campus have thus far been spared. Members of the Stanford community impacted by the outage can find assistance at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons or Lagunita Dining, the university said in an alert.

Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospitals and Stanford Shopping Center still have power as of late Tuesday afternoon.

PG&E does not yet have estimated times when power will be restored.

A wind advisory will be in effect from Tuesday afternoon through midday Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Gusts of 40 to 55 mph are expected in some areas and 65 mph on the region's higher peaks.

The city of Menlo Park asked people to report downed trees to 650-330-6780 during business hours. An advisory from the city warned of downed power lines and trees due to high winds, and asked residents to put their garbage and recyclable bins in an enclosed area to avoid debris blowing around and potentially causing injuries.

At 6 p.m., the city of Menlo Park reported several intersections were experiencing signal light power outages: Ravenswood Avenue at Laurel Street; Middlefield Road at Ringwood Avenue; Willow Road at Hamilton Avenue and Sand Hill Road at Oak Avenue.

Palo Alto Weekly and Almanac staff contributed to this report.

Comments

RWil
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 21, 2023 at 7:11 pm
RWil, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2023 at 7:11 pm

Today’s massive electricity outages on the peninsula; the major east-bay power loss last Sunday; and the persistent wildfires attributed to PG&E highlight the need fully to nationalise this utility. It places investor profits and executive pay above service to its customers.
Among others, Quebec and Bolivia have both taken this step to deal with errant privately-held utilities.
California should nationalise PG&E before the firm’s mismanagement extracts an even higher toll.


Kevin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 21, 2023 at 10:20 pm
Kevin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2023 at 10:20 pm

@RWil, Not clear that this one is on PG&E - seems like the “evil-doers” are the weather, trees and cars. Maybe we should ban trees and cars before they inflict a higher toll on us.


RWil
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2023 at 10:00 am
RWil, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 10:00 am

Ban cars in neighborhoods, yes, except for residents, visitors, and services
Weather?? If PG&E had maintained infrastructure and modernized it e.g. by undergrounding main feeders etc. weather-caused outages and fires would not have occurred.
Time to take utility decisions out of hands of greedy corporations and assure that public good predominates..


Kevin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 22, 2023 at 11:10 am
Kevin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 11:10 am

@rwil, you’re clearly clueless about how expensive retroactive undergrounding is and how fruitless it is for reliability unless you do it throughout the entire distribution network. You can organize your neighbors or the city to get utilities undergrounded under Section 20, at approximately 6000$ per foot (fully loaded - price varies by what has to be ripped up and what needs to be reinstalled). Go for it ! Or just keep complaining !

Web Link

But we have a neighborhood that was undergrounded from the start (much cheaper in new developments), and we’re out of power as well.


RWil
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2023 at 11:38 am
RWil, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 11:38 am

The widespread outages souldn’t stem from a pole or two down in isolated neighborhoods, but rather from a more central point/substation or area feed. It is these facilities I’m referring to, it should be obvious.
Yes… don’t complain… just keep living with crumbling infrastructure, choking traffic, no real mass transit… If that’s what you want, go for it. Corporations and developers and politicians will be overjoyed…


Clevenger
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2023 at 1:49 pm
Clevenger, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 1:49 pm

This feels unprecedented. Nearly 24 hours has passed and the map of outages appears unchanged, with no estimate as to when power will be restored. Our refrigerated and frozen food will be kaput soon if it isn’t already.

The least PG&E owes its ratepayers is an update in some detail.


fixate
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2023 at 5:54 pm
fixate, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 5:54 pm

24 hours without an update to this article?? While we sit here in the dark and wonder how much worse the next outage or quake will be there isn’t a soul at the Almanac that could gather or share another fact or detail of what’s going on? This sort of lackadaisical, can’t be bothered attitude towards reporting ongoing events hardens readers to the idea of pitching in for local reporting if it simply does not deliver when we need it the most.


Dave Boyce
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2023 at 6:48 pm
Dave Boyce, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 6:48 pm

Since Craigslist and its nefarious and utterly irresponsible offspring came on the scene and vacuumed up the revenue sources that paid for local journalism, this vital element of American democracy has been under a continuous and invidious threat to its survival. Blame them! And subscribe to this newspaper!!!

Your subscription will not be enough, but it’s the only resource out there unless The Almanac and its sister newspapers become nonprofits. One Almanac reporter is responsible for covering six school districts and three communities — Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. One reporter.

And those beats are over and above stories that are not formal beats, including the region and the county, which is the category that this story falls into. Somebody has to cover it. The Almanac has two reporters. I was an Almanac reporter for 18 years. When I came on the job in 2001, there were five regular reporters and a couple of part-time veterans. We had room to maneuver. Those days are long, long gone but the beats are the same.

Writing is a demanding job. Facing the blank page is intimidating at best. If you think writing stories that are scrupulously accurate, comprehensive in answering the key questions readers will have, legally sound in terms of libel issues, compellingly written under tight and sometimes seemingly impossible deadlines, and all for a pittance of a salary that makes living here a nerve-wracking existential dance, try it! You try it and then think about complaining.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2023 at 9:02 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2023 at 9:02 pm

At least the city council hasn't managed to ban gas appliances yet, so many of us still have heat and working stoves. Could be worse.


MPMom
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 23, 2023 at 5:43 am
MPMom, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 5:43 am

In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can with what you have, where you are.” Yes, this is inconvenient, communication from government and PG&E is unacceptable, but be thankful for a roof over your head and the likelihood of having to clean out that outdated freezer. Put your perishables on ice in a cooler, heat some soup on your gas stove if you have one, find a good book and some blankets for these short 2-3 days!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 7:14 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 7:14 am

Well said Dave Boyce.

Those who are first to complain are usually the same that are first to step back from taking any kind of action or doing the job they complain about.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 7:16 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 7:16 am

fixate:

have you never learned to do anything for yourself? Here's a useful links with info about power outages. Web Link

Use it and stop whining like a child.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:29 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:29 am

fixate:

Just recieved this from MP. Perhaps you're not on the mailing list?

PG&E continues to make progress on restoring power
Yesterday afternoon PG&E reported that San Mateo County was the hardest hit county in the Bay Area from this windstorm with the resulting power outages affecting nearly 1 in 3 people in the county, over 60,000 customers. Systemwide on the PG&E network over 400,000 customers have been affected. More than half of those were restored by mid-afternoon Wednesday. By 10 p.m. Wednesday evening, they estimated about 34,000 customers remained without service.

In San Mateo County, PG&E has brought in outside crews to help expedite the remaining service restorations. In Menlo Park, at least one substation was severely affected with wires coming down across major travel lanes. Those and others require coordination with multiple agencies and restoration sometimes takes time. The City is working closely with PG&E to expedite repairs.

PG&E recommends customers track outages on their Outage Center map website. From that site, you can also enter your address to view an "outage status" page and get notifications. Please report any new outages that may occur by submitting them online to PG&E using your mobile device or calling 1-800-743-5002.

Traffic signals
In the event of a power outage, only a few of the City’s traffic signals (at major intersections) have battery backups. Those signals with battery power backups will operate during an outage as normal until the battery runs out, when they will also go dark. When the power is off at a signaled intersection, it becomes a 4-way stop. Stop signs are not typically placed in intersections during unexpected power outages.

Police officers are responding to emergency dispatch calls and patrol duties and cannot be stationed at intersections to direct traffic.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:29 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:29 am

fixate:

Here's the second half:

Remember, if a traffic signal is flashing red or out completely, take caution and treat the intersection as a 4-way stop. Plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.

Downed trees and debris
Between 1 p.m., Tuesday, and 4 p.m., Wednesday, the City of Menlo Park received 27 calls for trees down and 46 calls for broken tree limbs down or other tree issues. This in addition to multiple small branches and leaves, means there is a lot of debris in the right of way and our public streets. Please help us keep this debris out of the storm drain as rain is forecast between now and Friday evening. While it will not be rain like we experienced in January, if storm drains become blocked, it could be enough to affect surface streets and traffic.

For any additional down trees, report them to Public Works at 650-330-6780 from 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (business hours) and to 650-330-6300 overnight (after hours). Note: For fallen trees tangled in electrical wires, PG&E must clear the wires before Public Works can remove the trees.

For downed power lines, or if you suspect another emergency, leave the area right away and call 9-1-1. Then, call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.


fixate
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:59 am
fixate, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 8:59 am

With plenty of propane, ice, and backup batteries, we’re doing fine, checking in on neighbors, and will get by until PG&E can make the repairs needed. We have no complaint about the inconvenience of the outage. Weather happens. The original comment stands - the Almanac has proved to be next to useless as a source of information. With all due respect to Mr. Boyce: if you’re still blaming Craigslist for the fall of democracy because your local paper can no longer rip people off for personal ads it sounds like you and your industry need to move on.


fixate
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2023 at 9:04 am
fixate, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 9:04 am

Menlo Voter: Thank you for the info! That MP mailing is not something we had received or seen reported on here or elsewhere. Timely, informative, and helpful. Thank you.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 23, 2023 at 9:18 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 9:18 am

Thank goodness we don't have an all PG&E electric home!

With our solar panels, storage batteries and a natural GAS generator we stayed powered up without grid power and provided power and a charging station for our neighbors.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 10:24 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 10:24 am

fixate:

Does broadcast tv "rip off" advertisers to pay for their content? That's how the newspaper business worked, they sold advertising to pay for putting out a paper. NO advertising revenue means no money for reporters. It's really that simple. If you subscribe to a newspaper you may have noticed the subscription price has gone way up thanks to a lack of ad revenue.

Are you a subscriber to the Almanac? I put my money where my mouth is and I subscribe to help support local journalism. Something that is, frankly, much more important than state or national journalism.

I think if you think they're doing such a lousy job you should start your own paper. Then you too can be bitched at by people that don't know anything about producing a newspaper.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 23, 2023 at 12:09 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 12:09 pm

I'm not sure why people are trying to sugarcoat it: fact is that the Almanac's coverage of this major local story is severely lacking. Twitter has better (and free) information.

I am a longtime paid subscriber and have been involved with publishing four newspapers, each over a period of years. No excuses here.


fixate
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2023 at 3:05 pm
fixate, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 3:05 pm

Menlo Voter, respectfully: are you blind? There’s no shortage of advertising in any print issue of the Almanac. Yes the classifieds are long gone - and they are never ever coming back. The fact that Mr. Boyle’s sense of entitlement leaves him in a rage that readers are no longer easily charged $20- a pop to run a text ad the length of a tweet is too bad. It’s long past time to get over it. This and every other newspaper has had 20 years to adapt. Subscriptions and timely, relevant journalism can both be a part of that.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2023 at 3:32 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2023 at 3:32 pm

fixate:

yes, there are still ads, just nowhere near the amount. It's no secret that ad revenues are way down across all print media. The only adaptation that would duplicate the old revenues is to charge exorbitant subscription fees. That isn't going to happen either. Again, it's up to us to support local media. Local news, politics, etc., have far greater impact on our lives than most state, national or international news. Until local news media can afford to hire more people to make "timely, relevant" journalism, it isn't going to happen.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 25, 2023 at 1:39 am
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2023 at 1:39 am

All I can say is I'm glad I still had my gas stove and oven plus my wood-burning fireplace,

Made some homemade soup from leftovers and sat by the fireplace with some good books,


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