Just two weeks after utility PG&E cut power to hundreds of thousands of Californians, it is considering doing it to 2.5 million residents.

Among those who could be impacted by the shutdown is NERSC, which had to switch off its supercomputers during the last outage and stop crucial scientific research.

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center is part of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which is also proactively shutting down its systems, research labs, and on-site server rooms.

Update: "PG&E has informed us that the power shutdown timeline has been moved forward, so we now plan to begin shutting down the Cori system and file systems at around 1:30pm today," Steve Leak, NERSC HPC consultant, said in an email to users.

"Our plans otherwise remain the same: We plan to run jobs until Cori is powered off, which means all running jobs will be terminated. We will endeavor to keep web services, databases and auxiliary services, that do not rely on NERSC filesystems, running for as long as possible on backup power."

Cori is currently offline (20:51 UTC/13:51 PT).

Update 2:

At 15:21 UTC / 8:21 PT on Monday 28 October user engagement group leader Rebecca Hartman-Baker said in an email to users: "NERSC is still operating on backup generator power today, meaning that only minimal auxiliary systems not requiring the global filesystems are up.

"Cori, Cori scratch, and the global project and home filesystems remain down.

"We do not have an ETA for when the power might be restored, although we expect to hear something early this afternoon (which could simply be a confirmation that there is no ETA for getting power back). It is likely that our power will remain off, as there is a prediction of more Diablo winds for Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.

"On a personal note, I happen to live in an area not impacted by the power outage, but other members of the consulting team do not. Thus, we appreciate your patience if a consultant does not immediately get back to you or cannot help you in a timely manner -- they may just be occupied with other things, like what to do with the food in their fridge, or checking in on Grandma, or figuring out where to sleep for the night.

"Thank you for your patience during this unexpected power outage!"


Original story continues:

The new normal

Cori, the NERSC's Cray XC40 supercomputer

"PG&E has announced a Public Safety Power Shutdown, expected to occur Saturday afternoon. NERSC is affected by the power outage and expects to shutdown mid-afternoon on Saturday Oct 26," a NERSC service status notes.

"We will endeavor to keep web services, databases, and auxiliary services, that do not rely on NERSC filesystems, running for as long as possible on backup power."

"I spent about 50 hours preparing for, dealing with, & cleaning up after unexpected issues resulting from the last PG&E #PSPS outage when it hit NERSC," LBNL computer systems engineer Stefan Lasiewski tweeted. "Let's hope this one goes better. So far I've only spent 2.5 hours. Fingers crossed."

At time of publication (11:39 UTC/04:44 PT) services - including the 30 petaflops Cori supercomputer - are still available.

PG&E have not provided a specific time for the power shutdown, other than 'afternoon' PT.

"Weather conditions, including potential fire risk, have been forecast that may impact electric service to portions of our service area. If a decision is made to turn off power, we expect to start turning off power for safety," PG&E said in a statement.

"Outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours. For planning purposes, PG&E suggests customers prepare for outages that could last several days."

The company promised to make regular updates here, but was heavily criticized during the last outage for providing few details, and for its website crashing during the power cut.

The outages come as PG&E tries to reduce the risk of wildfires that has dramatically risen during these early years of anthropogenic climate change.