Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 — As Lassen County residents brace for what USA Today calls the “fiercest storm in five years,” help is available locally should the power go out.
The Pineapple Express, a river of warm, moisture-laden air that originates near Hawaii in the Southern Pacific Ocean is expected to pump lots of moisture toward the West Coast with wind, rain and snow in the next few days. If that’s not enough, a flood watch is also in effect through Friday evening for a portion of Northeastern California including the Lassen Volcanic National Park area in Lassen County. The danger is especially high in areas that recently experienced wildfires.
A high wind warning also is in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday until 2 p.m. Thursday, especially below 6,500 feet.
At 4:05 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, the U.S. Weather Service issued a blizzard warning above 6,500 feet from 7 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 11 until 4 a.m. Friday, Dec. 12, expecting snow accumulations of 6 to 13 inches with more than 2 feet expected along the crest of the Sierra. The snowfall may close some mountain passes. Travelers are advised not to travel because conditions are extremely dangerous. Those who must travel are advised to bring a winter survival kit with them. Motorists who get stranded are advised to stay in their vehicles.
The heaviest snow is expected Thursday after noon and Thursday night. The strongest wind — with gusts perhaps as high at 80 miles-per-hour are expected Wednesday night into Thursday. The winds should decrease by Friday.
Should the power go out in Lassen County, residents have options available.
Campbell Jamieson, manager of the Diamond Mountain Casino in Susanville, said, “We’ll be ready if it happens. If the storm comes in, we’re ready to go.”
The casino and the Diamond Mountain Mini-Mart both have generators and will be open regardless of the weather.
Jamieson said in the event of an emergency, the casino will prepare food — possibly a spaghetti dinner — for hungry residents.
For more information, call 252-1100.
The Lassen County American Red Cross also can help in the event of a weather-related emergency.
Sophia Wages, Lassen County’s Red Cross coordinator, said, “I hope it’s not as severe as they say it’s going to be, but I think we’re ready.”
Wages said Eric Ewing, Lassen County Office of Emergency Services director, is responsible for making the decisions when an emergency strikes and the Red Cross communicates closely with his office.
In the event of an emergency, Wages said Ewing declares a disaster, calls the Red Cross Center, and then she receives the call from them.
Wages said in the event of an emergency the Red Cross may set up a shelter at Lassen High School or the National Guard Armory at the Lassen County Fairgrounds.
Those who need assistance may call the Red Cross Center at (855) 891-7321.
Those who decide to shelter in their homes can purchase food and other supplies at Susanville Supermarket.
Todd Eid, the IGA store’s manager, said, “We’re ready. We have power. We’ll be open no matter what happens. With the aid of a generator, we can provide full service. Over the years we’ve become better and better at serving the community during outages.”
Theresa Phillips, Energy Services Manager with the Lassen Municipal Utility District, said the utility is always prepared for any weather-related situation. She advised customers to the call the utility at 257-4174 to report an outage.
“We’re as prepared as we can be,” Phillips said.
In the event the Pacific Gas and Electric line over the Sierras goes down during the storm, Phillips said an islanding agreement with Honey Lake Power in Herlong is all set up and ready to go.
The district advises customers to be prepared with a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, candles and matches and make sure your cell phone is always fully charged.
For more information about preparedness, go to Ready.gov.