Santa Ana winds will return to the Southland Wednesday, dramatically raising the risk of wildfires and prompting warnings that some residents may lose electricity in an effort to prevent energized power equipment from sparking blazes amid gusty conditions.
The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings denoting conditions ripe for wildfires in most of Los Angeles and Orange counties, beginning Wednesday evening and continuing into the weekend.
In Los Angeles County, the warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 10 p.m. Saturday in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest and Santa Clarita Valley. A separate red flag warning will last from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 6 p.m. Friday for the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, along with the coastal area, which extends to downtown Los Angeles.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation for the mountains due to the combination of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds, and very dry air especially Thursday morning into Thursday afternoon,” according to the NWS. “Elevated to brief critical fire weather conditions will persist after Saturday due to offshore winds and dry air through early next week.”
The mountains and Santa Clarita Valley could experience winds from 25 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 70 mph, forecasters said. Conditions will also be dangerously dry, with humidity levels hovering between 5 and 12%.
In Orange County, a red flag warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Saturday in inland areas including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Fullerton and Mission Viejo, as well as the Santa Ana Mountains.
A wind advisory will be in effect from 8 p.m. Wednesday until 3 p.m. Thursday in the Los Angeles coastal region, where gusts of up to 45 mph are possible. In mountain areas, a wind advisory will be in effect until 10 p.m. Wednesday, when a more serious high-wind warning will take effect and continue until 3 p.m. Thursday. Mountain areas could see gusts up to 65 mph, according to the NWS. The San Fernando Valley will be under a wind advisory until 3 p.m. Thursday, with gusts possibly ranging to 50 mph.
The wind event will again raise the possibility of power outages. Southern California Edison warned Tuesday that some customers could be subject to Public Safety Power Shutoffs, in which electricity is cut in particularly wind-affected areas to prevent equipment damage that could spark fires.
“We understand that having your power turned off is a hardship, especially in the middle of a pandemic and when most folks are at home. We are working to limit the number of customers who are shutoff due to Public Safety Power Shutoffs,” Vik Trehan, SCE director and incident commander, said in a statement. “We know this is especially difficult for customers who lost power due to PSPS over the Thanksgiving holiday and who live in areas with high winds and increased wildfire threats. These PSPS are initiated to reduce the risk of wildfires and to protect communities from wildfire danger.”
Residents can get more information about the shutoffs, and determine if they are in an area being considered for power cuts, by visiting www.sce.com/psps. As of Wednesday morning, the utility listed 34,088 customers in Los Angeles as being under consideration for possible shutoffs, along with 16,425 in Orange County.
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