Edison begins power shutdowns in Southern California amid winds, fire danger – Los Angeles Times

Edison begins power shutdowns in Southern California amid winds, fire danger - Los Angeles Times
Proactive Power Outages: How Utilities Decide Its Time to Pull the Plug
Southern California Edison has warned customers in parts of Southern California about unprecedented proactive power shutoffs in high-risk fire areas.

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. 

Cal Fire officials stressed the need for people to take basic preventative steps, such as not mowing lawns during high winds, not driving vehicles over extremely dry vegetation, where sparks or hot engine components might touch off a blaze, limiting campfires to designated places and being on the lookout for suspicious behavior that could be arson-related.

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.

Among areas that could be affected are Alpine, Banner Grade, Boulevard, Campo, Descanso, Fallbrook, Julian, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Oak Grove, Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, Rincon, Santa Ysabel, Valley Center, Viejas, Vista, Warner Springs, Valley Center and Wynola.

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.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning that will be in effect from noon Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday for those two areas, meaning “critical fire weather” stemming from extremely low humidity is anticipated for the duration of the easterly winds.

The winds will develop by early Thursday and continue through Saturday, raising the fire risk across Ventura and Los Angeles counties. 

In response to the Red Flag warning, San Diego Gas & Electric has alerted about 34,000 of its customers that it may suspend their electrical service at times over the period to reduce combustion hazards posed by power lines, the utility company reported.

Southland Under Red Flag Warning

“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.”

Winds of 20-30 mph are forecast across San Diego County, with isolated gusts as high as 60 mph near coastal mountain slopes, meteorologists said. Humidity will drop to 5-10% Thursday and remain around 5% Friday.

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.

Should any precautionary power shut-off last for more than 24 hours, the utility plans to open temporary aid centers where customers can get water and snacks, charge their cellphones, and get updates.

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.

According to the Weather Service, a ridge of high pressure settling over the Great Basin in Nevada and Utah will churn up offshore winds expected to be particularly fierce in mountains and passes.

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. 

SDG&E advised that it plans to provide updated notifications to customers within 24 hours of an anticipated power-down, and again within one to four hours of a shut-off, if possible.

San Diego Braces for Potentially Dangerous Fire Weather

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.

The threat was deemed moderate Thursday and Friday, according to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, which means that “upon ignition, fires will be difficult to control.”

High winds, including red flag warningsLow humidityDry vegetation that provide fire fuelOn-the-ground observationsFire threat to electric infrastructurePublic safety risk

The first Santa Ana windstorm of the fall will elevate fire danger and other public safety hazards in the San Diego County mountains and valleys Thursday and Friday.

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. 

Approximately 4,700 customers in Los Angeles County communities including Palmdale, Santa Clarita and unincorporated areas of Agua Dulce, Acton, Fern Ann Falls, Twin Lakes, Deer Lake Highlands, Chatsworth Lake Manor and Santa Susana Knolls were affected.

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.

In a tweet Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power said the utility had no plans to perform safety shutoffs similar to Edison’s.

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.

The shutoff also affected customers in Ventura, Kern and San Bernardino counties, according to the Edison website.

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.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Fierce Santa Ana winds blew across the Southland today amid very low humidity, raising fears of wildfires.

At 3 a.m., a red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service and denoting critical fire weather conditions went into effect in the Santa Monica 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 the mountains, northeast winds blew at sustained speeds of 25-45 miles per hour, gusting at 75 miles per hour, according to the NWS. In the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, northeast winds blew at speeds of 20-35 mph, along with 55-mph gusts. And in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, northeast winds of 20-30 mph were reported, along with 50-mph gusts.

At 8 a.m. in the city of Los Angeles, Red Flag parking restrictions mandated by the Los Angeles Fire Department went into effect for 24 hours or until further notice in areas of the city that have been posted as being within the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.

The program is designed to remove parked vehicles from areas such as those with very narrow roads, hairpin turns, tight curves, and key intersections that, if not cleared of vehicles, would create a choke point for emergency vehicles, according to the LAFD.

Damaging winds may blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are possible. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles, the NWS warned. Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high-profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

Additionally, people should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.

In the Antelope Valley, a freeze watch will be in force from late tonight through Friday morning, with temperatures as low as 28 degrees expected.

The NWS forecast sunny skies in L.A. County today and highs of 63 on Mount Wilson; 69 in Palmdale; 70 in Lancaster; 73 in Saugus; 76 in Avalon; 79 at LAX; 80 in Burbank and San Gabriel; 82 in Pasadena, Woodland Hills and Downtown L.A.; and 83 in Long Beach. Temperatures will rise three or four degrees Friday before reverting to todays levels on Saturday.

Sunny skies and windy conditions were forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 59 on Santiago Peak; 71 on Ortega highway at 2,600 feet; 78 in Fremont Canyon and Trabuco Canyon; 81 in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente; 82 in Mission Viejo; 83 in Yorba Linda and Fullerton; and 84 in Irvine and Anaheim. Temperatures will mostly dip slightly Friday and Saturday and drop a few degrees more on Sunday.

Posted in Santa Ana