Auburn battening down the hatches as stormy weekend rolls in

PG&E on the job as power outages signal storm has struck Auburn area
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Wind. Rain. Yecch.
Like their counterparts throughout storm-pummeled Northern California, Placer County residents were putting plans on hold and weathering a weekend of frightful weather by staying home and dry.
Tracey Tichenor of Auburn said better weather might have seen her shopping in the Roseville area. But not now. Not this weekend.
“We’re hunkering down and staying home,” Tichenor said. “I probably would have gone shopping but I wouldn’t have gone to Roseville in this.”
“This” was a forecasted 6 to 8 inches of rain through Sunday in the Sacramento, accompanied by high winds and a National Weather Service flood watch.
“I’m crossing my fingers that no trees go down near us,” Tichenor said. “That’s our concern when it’s windy and wet.”
Meadow Vista’s Laszlo Bocskai said that he’d prefer to be outside, but was likely to be staying warm and dry at home through Sunday night, when the last of the storm is forecast to finally pass through.
“My wife doesn’t want to go out,” Bocskai said. “I’d like to go to Fry’s. But I understand.”
Auburn’s Cody Newman said the storm wasn’t doing his bottom line any favors.
“My photography business had cancellations for family shoots this weekend,” Newman said.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews were working to restore power through Friday afternoon in the Auburn area, including, earlier in the day, Forest Lake Christian School.
The school and 235 other PG&E customers in the Combie Road area lost power just before 8 a.m., corporate spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers said.
Ehlers said that no outside crews were called in because the storm Friday was actually not as strong and damaging as initially thought.
In all, PG&E was reporting 447 customers without power in the Auburn area at noon Friday. That was down from about 2,100 during the morning. By 5 p.m. Friday, six customers were still without electricity.
Other areas without electricity in the morning centered around Luther and Chubb Roads, with 92 customers out, and Joeger-Bell roads, with 73 customers.
  As of 5 p.m. Saturday, there was only one power outage in the Auburn area — a downed power pole on Brook Road, which was impacting 86 customers, according to J.D. Guidi, PG&E spokesman.
“It happened when a tree came down onto a pole, broke it and brought down lines as well,” he said. “Due to conditions, it took longer than expected to restore power. One PG&E vehicle got stuck in the mud.”
Power was expected to be restored by 6 p.m. Saturday, he said.
 In the Sierra, Placer County’s Sugar Bowl ski resort was blaming the series of strong systems for a decision made early Friday to close all of Saturday.
Scott Ferguson, resort operations director, said strong winds were having an impact on lift operations and mixed snow and rain was limiting visibility.
“Perhaps more importantly in the interest of maintaining the lower-level base we’ve already got, we’ve made the decision to close for this Saturday,” Ferguson said.
Amelia Richmond, Squaw Valley resort spokeswoman, said that weekend skiing would be “weather dependent.”
“We’re getting lots of great snow at higher elevations, which should be great for skiing – and rain at the base of the mountain,” Richmond said Friday. The resort, which is at 6,200 feet at its base and 8,200 feet above sea level at the upper end of the mountain’s ski run, was closed Friday due to strong winds.
“How things will go on the weekend will depend on those winds,” Richmond said. “The snow is definitely blowing sideways. We can’t run the lifts in these winds.”
The storm wave rolling through Saturday night into Sunday was expected to be the strongest of the three that have slammed Northern California since Wednesday, bringing as much 4 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph in the Auburn area.
“There’s a flood watch over the whole of Northern California and a wind advisory for most of Northern California,” National Weather Service forecaster Johnny Powell said late Saturday afternoon.
Once the storm arrived, Powell said many of those advisories likely would become warnings.
“When it is about to happen, that’s when warnings will go up,” he said.  “When warnings go up, that means act now.  But watches and advisories mean get prepared.”
The brunt of the storm was forecast to be from about 9 p.m. Saturday through the morning hours Sunday.
“It will be winding down by Sunday night, then there will be a dry day on Monday and rain again on Tuesday,” Powell said.
In the Sierra, snow levels were projected to be very high — at about the 8.000-foot level.
“Snow levels are insignificant in this storm, because it is such a warm system,” he said.