Out go the lights

The withering east wind is supposed to pick up in western Oregon today, and given how dry and hot it's already been for months now, that ramps up the danger of wildfire quite a bit. It's nothing new in this part of the world at this time of year, of course. But this year, for the first time as far as I can tell, the power companies say they're going to start blacking out entire areas for hours on end, so that their power lines don't start a blaze that can't be stopped. 

Even some parts of the toney Portland West Hills are going to go dark, according to the Portland General Electric website. Pacific Power, which also covers parts of Portland, has some shutoffs planned, but it appears they're all elsewhere in the state.

It's not clear how long these blackouts are going to last. Tomorrow's supposed to be windy, too.

I'm afraid a fair number of vulnerable people are going to be taken by surprise by this. Let's hope nobody gets hurt too badly. I hate to be a cynic, but if there's a lot of screaming, the next thing you might see is the electric utilities asking the government for limits to their liability when things go bad.