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photo credit: Marc Albert/KRCB
Clouds are gathering and winds picking up as the first significant winter storm approaches.  
 
Megan McFarland, a spokesperson for Pacific Gas & Electric Co., said utility teams are getting ready.
  
"Our meteorologists see this storm coming in, hitting our service area late tonight and really all day Thursday and we're definitely getting prepared."
  
Periods of heavy rain are expected through the weekend, accompanied by winds as high as 50 miles per hour in places. Expecting hazardous driving conditions, forecasters say up to an inch could fall in urban areas, up to two inches in coastal mountains and inland hills and as much as three inches in the wettest spots.
  
McFarland said preparations are well in order. 
 
"We've been stockpiling power poles, powerlines, transformers, just all the electrical equipment that often is damaged during the storm, so it's all pre-staged, laid-out, this way if there are storm-related outages we can get out into the field quickly and make the repairs and get the power back on. We're also bringing in extra crews from areas that aren't impacted, so we have extra co-workers on hand to help with the restoration effort."
  
She said technology is also helping the company better respond to outages.
  
"Our storm outage prediction model looks at all the areas that are going to be hit hard, so we don't leave any areas behind. We know whether it's snow or rain or wind, we have a really good idea of where there could be outages, so we're ready to respond quickly. We know it's frustrating to be without power."
  
McFarland urged people not to approach, touch or attempt to move any downed powerlines, and instead, call 911 and PG&E. She said downed lines should be assumed live and carrying lethal voltage.
 
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