For Immediate Release: January 3, 2023

Incoming storm on heels of New Year’s Eve storm will likely lead to more extended outages

SMUD has made significant progress restoring power to more than 99% of those who were knocked out of power due to the New Year’s Eve storm, which was one of the most significant storm events in the last 30 years. And now, like a one-two punch, the National Weather Service forecasts the incoming storm on Wednesday to result in multiple hours of high winds with gusts exceeding 50 mph. If the forecast holds, extended outages are near certain.

Wednesday’s storm is expected to be worse than that seen on New Year’s Eve. That storm caused more than 120 poles to be blown down, and at least 115 trees were uprooted and took down power lines. At its height, more than 180,000 customers were without power. And now, with the ground saturated from multiple days of heavy rains, more downed trees and poles are likely on Wednesday.

When storms knock out power, SMUD works around-the-clock to restore electric service as safely and as quickly as possible, but restoration efforts can be slowed when winds are too high for crews to safely work or access is limited or not possible due to floods. Both of those conditions are likely on Wednesday. 

SMUD line crews, troubleshooters and other field personnel are ready to restore power to customers who may experience storm-related outages. Thanks to partnerships with other local utilities and contract crews, SMUD has more than doubled the typical number of crews in the field working to restore power from 16 to 33. SMUD has also requested additional mutual aid crews from across the U.S. to help with power restoration. 

Safety is a top priority and SMUD is providing tips for customers to prepare for the storm.

Preparing for a storm

Prepare an emergency kit and store in an accessible place. Be sure to include:

  • Fully charged cell phone, laptop and external battery banks
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-operated clock
  • Extra batteries o Manual can opener
  • Supply of water
  • A battery-operated radio
  • Charged internet hotspot
  • Food
  • Blankets

If the power goes out...

If stormy weather knocks down a power line…

  • Stay away and call SMUD at 1-888-456-SMUD (7683) or 911 immediately.
  • Assume the line is “energized” and stay away and warn others to do the same.
  • Do not remove fallen tree limbs or other debris from power lines. Tree limbs and other objects can conduct electricity that can shock anyone coming in contact with them.

SMUD prioritizes where crews will be sent during a storm:

  1. Public safety hazards (power lines down, poles down)
  2. Hospitals and critical flood control pumps
  3. Areas with large numbers of customers out of power
  4. Scattered, smaller outages

SMUD urges people to check on family, friends and neighbors who may experience outages. For those experiencing prolonged outages, SMUD is working with its’ customers on an individual basis to provide for specific needs during the storms. In case of extended outages or for those with medical needs, SMUD urges customers to have a back-up plan for accommodations if needed.

While homes can get cold without power, SMUD warns customers not to heat homes with propane heaters, grills, hibachis or BBQs. They produce carbon monoxide, a clear, odorless gas that can be fatal to humans and animals.

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned, not-for-profit electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity to Sacramento County for more than 75 years. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. Today, SMUD’s power supply is on average about 50 percent carbon free and SMUD has a goal to reach zero carbon in its electricity production by 2030.