San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has installed at least 101 weather stations in their service area in San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties in southern California. The primary purpose of the stations is to monitor wind speeds so that they can make decisions about when to turn off the power if they think their lines would be in danger of arcing or falling during wind events. The company is beginning to be a little gun shy since their lines have started numerous wildfires, including the 175,000-acre Laguna fire in 1970 and the disastrous Witch, Rice, and Guejito fires in 2007.
Wildfire Today covered this weather station story in August when the company had 94 of them up and running, but now the data from 101 stations is available in near real time on the internet.
Accessing and viewing the data is not very user friendly, but we applaud SDG&E for putting it online, something they did not have to do. Looking at a list of 100+ stations, with names you may not be familiar with, is not the ideal internet user experience, but if you live in the area you will probably recognize the locations near you. It would be great if they had one map that had an icon for each station, and mousing-over or clicking on the icon would bring up the weather data.
There is no single map that shows all of the stations, but if you go to the page with the 101 station list and click on the down arrow below “Regions”, choose an area, then click “Go” to the right, you will see a map of that area which displays the wind speed and direction for those few stations. Or you can select an area under “Communities” and see a text list of the stations in that area along with the wind speed, direction, temperature, and relative humidity.
Clicking on the name of a station brings up a page like this:
Another view of the text data from 22 of the stations can be found here. It includes living and dead fuel moisture information in addition to wind speed, RH, and Red Flag Warnings.
In case SDG&E does implement their very controversial plan to turn off the power during periods of high fire danger, they have provided a web page for the affected residents that will show estimates of when the power will be restored. One of the problems with this is, if a resident has no power, they will most likely have difficulty accessing the internet.