Visitor Impact of California's "Fire Season"
June - November
During the months of June through November, California typically experiences low humidity levels and warm weather, creating dry conditions. Previously, we used ‘dry season’ to indicate fires were not inevitable this time of year. However, as California has been impacted annually, Visit California has decided to fully embrace what Gov. Newsom, Gov. Brown and Gov. Schwarzenegger have been telling Californians for almost two decades: We can’t outrun climate change. It manifests itself in a variety of ways, including what has become an annual spate of destructive wildfires. National and global media are routinely referring to “California’s fire season,” and if we are going to be taken seriously we must communicate within that framework.
As a safety precaution for residents and visitors, on extremely warm, windy days, primarily when official weather centers issue a Red Flag Warning, public utilities may issue temporary Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to lower the likelihood of power lines sparking a fire.
Below please find key resources and facts; PG&E updates; suggested consumer messaging and talking points; suggested “Best Practices;” and reference articles to help counter negative consumer perception of visiting the Napa Valley in the summer and fall seasons due to the potential impact of wildfires, smoke, and possible Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). We will keep this information updated as incidents and/or new information arise.
It is important to plan ahead and keep employees and guests informed. Should Napa Valley be directly impacted, our goal is to ensure the tourism industry is primed for action.
October 20, 2020 —
- See Also — California Wildfires Talking Points
- The Glass Incident fire is 100% contained as of October 20, 2020.
- The Napa Valley is open and welcoming visitors.
- We are grateful for Cal Fire and first responders for their efforts, and for the many organizations that continue to assist our residents and small businesses owners.
- We understand the visuals shared may have left a lasting impression that much has been destroyed, but a majority of Napa Valley is physically unaffected.
- Damage caused by the Glass Fire was predominant in the Howell Mountain and Spring Mountain AVAs and the surrounding areas. The earlier LNU Complex fires burned in parts of Napa County’s forested mountaintops in the Vaca range. The greater part of Napa Valley did not sustain fire damage during these events.
- The vast majority of Napa County’s 45,000 acres under vine were not threatened. In many instances the vineyards acted as fire breaks to help save properties from structure damage.
- Of the 475 physical wineries in Napa Valley, 11 Napa Valley Vintners member wineries have reported suffering major to complete damage of their winery structures.
- At our core, Napa Valley is a strong, agricultural community where grapes have been grown and wines made for more than 150 years.
- Our region has faced many disasters and trying times - Prohibition, phylloxera, the Depression and recessions, earthquakes and fires - and has come back stronger at each turn.
- The Napa Valley is still here. Our spirit is unbroken, our land is bountiful and the beauty of our region continues to inspire.
- Visitor spending in our community supports the livelihoods of residents and small businesses, and we look forward to hosting you.
- As a safety precaution, on extremely warm, windy days, PG&E's wildfire prevention program could result in local cities and towns in Napa Valley facing possible multi-day power shutoffs. Red Flag Warning
- Before turning off the power, PG&E, and other California-based utility companies, will provide advance notice by phone, text alerts and emails to prepare residents, businesses and visitors of possible shutdowns as well as provide updates on when power will be restored.
- The utility companies will also use social media channels to provide updates and share information with local news and radio outlets.
Key PG&E Updates
- Adding advanced weather stations to proactively respond to potential fire threats and provide improved awareness of fire danger conditions. Additionally, PG&E is installing additional cameras to enhance real-time monitoring across high fire-risk areas.
- Conducting safety inspections of more than 15,000 miles of power lines in areas of extreme (Tier 3) and elevated (Tier 2) wildfire risk as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) High-Fire-Threat District map as well as additional miles in non-high fire-threat areas.
- Improving their infrastructure with stronger poles, covered power lines and targeted undergrounding and installing “sectionalizing” devices and switches to make the grid more flexible during outages.
- Inspecting vegetation and pruning or removing more than one million trees to maintain clearance from power lines.
- Improving their PSPS program by making events smaller in size and shorter in length.
- While PG&E expects to restore power to most customers within 12 daylight hours after extreme weather has passed (a 50% improvement from 2019), it is advised that businesses and consumers prepare for outages that could last multiple days.
- PG&E customers may update their contact information here:
My Wildfire Alerts >
Visitor & Customer
- In the summer and early fall, Napa Valley typically experiences low humidity levels and warmer and dryer weather, making it a “dry season.”
- While California summers can be marked by wildfires, these fires are usually hundreds of miles away from towns and tourism destinations.
- Though media portrayals of destructive fires are often dramatic, in many cases, active wildfires play little to no part in disrupting a visitor's experience.
- California is a large state and wildfires in one location typically have no impact outside a limited area.
- As a safety precaution for residents and visitors, on extremely warm, windy days, public utilities may issue temporary Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to lower the likelihood of fire caused by power lines.
- Before turning off power, PG&E will send early-warning notifications (48 hours in advance, when possible) by phone, text alerts, and emails to prepare both residents and visitors of possible shutdowns. Have a backup plan for phone charging.
- During the 'dry' season, visitors planning a trip anywhere in California may check Visit California's website at VisitCalifornia.com or contact their hotel, as well as check VisitNapaValley.com for all pertinent updates.
- Anyone sensitive to air quality impacts should consult real-time resources to determine if smoke levels in the state could impact their travel experience.
- Our first concern is always the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors.
- Plan ahead for power disruption. Create back-up plans and customer messaging.
- Consult with your business phone provider to determine how to forward calls in the event of a power outage.
- Keep visitors/guests informed and updated. Post updates on your homepage, email confirmed guests, and use social media channels answer to some of these common questions:
- Are you open or closed?
- Do you have power?
- Do you have “power outage kits” for guests? (which may include a flashlight or battery powered lantern; glowsticks; and flameless candles)
- Do you have back-up generators? Share what the guest experience will be if you remain open and welcoming guests.
- Will refunds be provided to guests who cancel their reservations?
- If guests choose or need to be relocated due to an extended power outage or safety concern, assist with reservations at another property, or provide a gift certificate for a future stay.
- How should guests contact you?
- Your Owned & Earned Channels:
- Communicate with your customers with accurate and positive outreach. Website, email, and social channels can keep visitors updated on operating hours, as well as current experiences. Avoid details and imagery that perpetuate visitor safety concerns. ie. Raging Flames, Inflammatory Verbiage.
- Use Social Media as a powerful visual tool to convey real-time conditions.