We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

Wayne, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
332 posts
330 reviews
Save Topic
State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

Just heard a state of emergency has been declared. The fires in Yosemite are causing major destruction in this beloved national park and some areas of 8 other western states . We are hearing news reports that SF's water and air quality may be compromised. After weeks of planning, it has occurred to me that this may not be a good time to visit (arriving Sept.10th) and we may need to adjust our itinerary. This is our first trip to CA and I'm not sure if we should sit tight or begin to think of changes that could be made.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
62,027 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego


The "State of emergency" has been issued for the fire area not for the whole state of California!

There is no problem in southern California at all and there are still people in Yosemite having a lovely time.

Have you read the most recent post on the Yosemite forum which describes on the ground experience?


I have not read any horror stories from the San Francisco forum either sooooo hopefully you won't cancel your trip based on out of proportion news reports.

It is early in the AM here so I would expect the local San Francisco folks to be up and about quite soon.

Edited: 26 August 2013, 14:11
Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
20,491 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

The smoke from the fires are blowing north easterly. A friend in Reno has complained about poor air quality there and major events have been canceled due to heavy smoke from the Yosemite fire.

Even Yosemite Valley appears to be smoke free at this time.

I think whatever you heard is much ado about nothing.

Edited: 26 August 2013, 14:17
Level Contributor
1,879 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

The state of emergency was for electronic power lines which were threaten or damaged which come from Hetch Hetchy, in the Yosemite area. There is no power outage, line were repaired. Open for business.

Level Contributor
10,043 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

The State of Emergency has to do with releasing funds for protection and work on projects.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
2,550 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

There were some news articles saying that San Francisco's water and power supplies could be affected over this past weekend since 85% of the water for the city of San Francisco comes from hetch hetchy near the fire and they thought that some pumps might shut down. I think there might have been some concern over the electrical transmission lines out that way, too.

So far nothing has happened and I think they'll probably keep the water and power infrastructure running with the extra resources.

The fire area is quite far inland from San Francisco. While air quality is a concern somewhere, it will not be an issue for you in San Francisco. The wind generally blows off the ocean from west to east, so if there are pollutants in the air they are probably coming from Asia. West Oakland and some other parts of the bay area can have some air pollution from boat shipping routes, cars, factories or other things, but the fires are not really air pollution problems for the bay area.

I would not cancel your trip because of the fires.

Mi Wuk Village...
Level Contributor
1,600 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

You obviously read a headline and didn't bother to read the rest of the article. You might want to delay your trip until you are able to take in all the information.

Level Contributor
40 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

I'm going to be in Napa/San Fran Aug 28- Sept 2 then heading to Lake Tahoe for a few days, so I'm also concerned. Do I need to make a backup itinerary just in case? Based on the forum, it sounds like most of you aren't too worried.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
28,098 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

No one needs to make any changes to any plans. Enjoy your vacation.

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
10,981 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

Suzzie, the Tahoe part depends on several things. Once again, SF has no problem with smoke right now and unless another fire starts close to it, which is unlikely, will not be having smoke problems). Tahoe is a different story (people have been posting on other threads about it being pretty smoky, but if you are a healthy person without asthma or other respiratory problems, I don't think it's a big deal even in Tahoe). You can click on BillW's name (above) and see his excellent summaries of the situation, which I have a feeling he doesn't want to keep typing out over and over.

The State of Emergency had nothing to do with air quality, anyway, as people have pointed out.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
14,882 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: State of Emergency: Sept. visit San Francisco to San Diego

As several people said, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the source of San Francisco’s water, and there were concerns about ash and other airborne pollutants getting into it. The water comes to the Bay Area by aqueduct so (theoretically at least) there should be minimal contamination from those pollutants. Also, the water is drawn into the aqueduct from the lower levels of the reservoir, so the stuff would take awhile to migrate that far down.

Even with this prospect, our water is among the best quality in California and maybe in the US, because it comes from Sierra Nevada snow and not from wells, groundwater, or other sources that can be tainted from radioactive waste, pig farms, agricultural chemicals, or industrial plants. The water is filtered on its way to us, and it might have some discoloring but probably not clumps of ash or other solids. If people are concerned, they can buy portable water filters or bottled drinking water.

The Hetch Hetchy system produces electrical power for the City, specifically for CITY facilities, like the Airport, SF General Hospital, Muni transit system, and some City buildings. The power plants in the path of the fire were shut down and will have to be inspected for damage before being restarted. Private homes and businesses do NOT get power from Hetch Hetchy, but from a utility company called PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric). The City has been buying electricity from PG&E to replace the lost power from the Hetch Hetchy system. One big reason for the state of emergency is so the City can recover the costs of buying this electricity or repairs on the water and power system that might be necessary later.

So, if your concern is that there will be poor water quality or loss of electricity, I think you needn’t worry too much. Even though San Francisco city government is dysfunctional and normally in a state of disaster in many ways, our utilities have a lot of redundancy in their design. The winds have been traveling north and folks in the Tahoe and Reno areas have been suffering, but air quality in San Francisco has not been affected.