Southern California Edison has cautioned that thousands of customers throughout its service area could lose power due to "Public SafetyPower Shutoffs'' aimed at reducing fire risks. The shutoffs are conducted during extreme fire conditions — de-energizing power lines that might be damaged in high winds and spark wildfires. Nearly 174,000 customers are in areas that are "under consideration'' for power cuts.
Fierce Santa Ana winds blew across the Southland Thursday amid very low humidity, raising fears of wildfires. At 3 a.m., a red flag warning was issued by the National Weather Service and denoting critical fire weather conditions went into effect in the SantaMonica Mountain Recreational Area, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, Los Angeles, including the coast, metropolitan L.A., Downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills, and much of Ventura county.
In Los Angeles County, there are roughly 49,000 customers facing possible cuts, primarily in the northern reaches of the county such asLancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and areas such as Acton, Agua Dulce, Lake Hughes and Canyon Country. La Crescenta/Montrose, Malibu, Chatsworth and San Fernando are also in the potentially affected area.
In Orange County, about 7,250 customers in Rancho Santa Margarita, Orange and North Tustin are in potential power-cut areas.
Cal State San Bernardino closed its campus Thursday, Oct. 10, because of an anticipated electricity shutdown by Southern California Edison.
Edison urged residents to check on family members and neighbors who may need assistance in case of a power outage. If a PSPS is implemented, once hazardous conditions have passed it could take 24 to 72 hours to re-energize circuits because SCE must first inspect all power lines in the affected area to ensure they are safe to re-energize.
Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol is reporting strong winds affecting the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway between the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway and State Route 138 in the northern reaches of L.A. County. Motorists, particularly those in high-profile vehicles, are being urged to use extra caution.
Southern California Edison has warned customers in parts of Southern California about unprecedented proactive power shutoffs in high-risk fire areas.
As Edison considers cutting power to some 174,000 Southern California customers because of wildfire danger, here are tips to help protect your family and workplace.
The alert comes as the first significant Santa Ana winds of the season raise the threat of wildfire danger Thursday and Friday. The utility, which covers portions of Southern California, said about 173,00 customers from nine counties are in zones that might face power interruptions.
Most of the deadly California fires over the past several decades, including the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California, have been the result of power lines in high-wind situations.
Add in Southern Californias infamous Santa Ana winds, and you have extermely volatile conditions. Santa Ana winds, which can fan flames sparked by downed power lines, are expected to pick up Thursday during one of the worst times of the year for wildfires.
“We have a lot of unburned fuel on the ground from the rains last winter and spring … and with the high winds, thats the big problem tonight, we could very easily get into a situation where a wildfire got away from us, thats the last thing we want to happen,” Con Fire spokesman Steve Hill said. RELATED California utility to pay $1B settlement for wildfire damage
The winds will develop by early Thursday and continue through Saturday, raising the fire risk across Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
The threat of wildfire in California is high, and there are already several wildfires burning across the northern part of the state. The largest, the Briceburg Fire, is only 10 percent contained and has burned 4,400 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations in Mariposa County since Sunday.
“Its strong around 9 a.m. (Thursday), and thats when we could see 50 mph wind gusts, some isolated 60 mph wind in those highest peaks,” said NBC4 forecaster Shanna Mendiola. “We still have a red flag warning. Were going to see this Thursday morning through Friday evening. That, in combination with some dry air and dry fuel on the ground, is going to raise that fire threat for us.”
SoCal Edison warned customers in part of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties that power might be shut off in areas facing extreme fire danger.
Approximately 49,439 customers in LA County including customers in Lancaster, Palmdale, Malibu, La Canada Flintraidge, Pasadena, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Sun Village, Palmdale and several unincorporated areas may be affected.Approximately 40,978 customers in San Bernardino County including customers in Big Bear, Fontana, Hesperia, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, San Bernardino, Yucaipa, Yucca Valley and several unincorpoarted areas may be affected. Approximately 23,189 customers in Ventura County including customers in Fillmore, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Ventura, and unincorporated areas may be affected.Approximately 21,366 customers in Riverside County including customers in Perris, Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, Hemet, San Jacinto, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Riverside and several unincorporated areas may be affected. Approximately 7,250 customers in Orange County including customers in Orange, Rancho Santa Margarita and unincorporated North Tustin may be affected. An additional 31,139 customers across Inyo, Kern, Mono and Tulare counties may also face power outages.
Oct. 10 (UPI) — Systemic power outages in California may be expanded to cover more than 1 million homes and businesses, as Pacific Gas & Electric switches off the electricity to avoid starting potential wildland fires.
For a detailed listing of all areas affected and maps to check if you may face a proactive shutoff, visit SCEs Public Safety Power Shutoff page.
Meteorologists and other SoCal Edison staff members use high-resolution weather data maps and other tools to monitor extreme fire weather. SoCal Edison also uses weather stations, historical data and fire monitoring cameras to determine fire potential.
If conditions warrant, the utility will shut off power in high-risk areas. Customers can receive notifications about outages in their area through emails, text or phone calls. The utility will alert first responders, local governments and customers of power shutoff.
It could soon be lights out across Southern California as Southern California Edison monitors the weather for proactive power shutoffs. Kim Tobin reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.
High winds, including red flag warningsLow humidityDry vegetation that provide fire fuelOn-the-ground observationsFire threat to electric infrastructurePublic safety risk
An initial notification is sent out about two days before a possible shutoff to warn customers. A second notification will be sent a day before, then notifications are sent when power is shut off and when its restored. Restoration is based on when weather conditions are deemed safe.
The fire-whipping winds are produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern Californias mountain ranges. Theyre common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.
Fall is historically the worst time of the year for damaging wildfires in California. Seven of the states 10-most destructive wildfires have occurred in October and November.
So far this year, Southern California has not seen the large fires that devastated parts of the state last year, largely due to above-average soil moisture and an active monsoon season that followed a winter of steady rain.
Through September, CALFIRE reported 4,460 wildfires that burned about 40,400 acres. Last year at that time, the agency reported 4,800 fires that burned a staggering 627,600 acres.
With the Santa Ana winds expected to come in Thursday morning, authorities are asking residents to prepare for critical fire weather conditions and preventative power outages. Kim Tobin reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.