More than 32,000 Edison customers in Southern California in Los Angeles and Riverside counties could be without power for part of Thanksgiving Day as the utility considers measures to protect public safety amid low humidity levels and threatening winds in Santa Ana that could increase the likelihood of dangerous Wildfires will increase.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for western Los Angeles County at 1 a.m. Thursday, indicating a fire weather hazard. It will remain in effect until Friday at 11 a.m.
Possible wind gusts of between 40 and 55 mph are expected in the area, which could remain strong into Thursday night, according to weather forecasts. Humidity is expected to range from 5% to 15% as the wind picks up.
“The combination of these gusty winds and very low humidity will very likely result in at least six to 12 hours of widespread critical fire weather conditions,” the NWS said.
These projections caused SCE to consider most of Ventura County and areas of Los Angeles and Riverside County for public safety shutdowns. In Los Angeles County, almost all of the 18,000+ customers being considered for closures live in the Santa Clarita area.
As of Wednesday afternoon, additional considerations were being made for more than 14,000 Riverside County customers, most of whom were residents between the 215 Freeway and Hemet, according to an updated SCE map. Some areas west of Freeway 215 north and east of Canyon Lake were also considered.
Other areas could be considered depending on weather conditions, said David Song, an SCE spokesman.
“These are dynamic events, but right now … it’s limited to a small portion of LA County,” Song said.
There were no power shutdown considerations for Orange or San Bernardino counties as of Wednesday afternoon.
A number of factors go into deciding which areas to consider power cuts in, Song said. Two of the main factors are wind speeds and fuel conditions.
Santa Clarita, Song said, didn’t get much rain in the region’s most recent storm.
“In this dead vegetation season, it’s good to get moisture there,” Song said, “but the last wind event in these areas, that’s all dried up now. Relative humidity in some areas, which can drop into the single digits, is a factor.”
Residents can sign up for outage alerts through SCE’s website, Song said, or view the utility’s outage map, which is updated regularly and includes areas where power shutdowns are being considered or are in effect for public safety.
Those wishing to search for family members living in the areas under review can check the status of the household by entering the address on the utility blackout card.
“It’s Thanksgiving and we didn’t miss that,” Song said. “It hasn’t escaped our attention that people may be making plans with family and some have not seen family in years due to the pandemic. We try to balance that and weigh it up with public safety.”