LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Santa Ana winds are expected to again batter the Southland this week, with localized gusty conditions and low humidity developing as early as tonight, followed by more widespread winds that will heighten the risk of wildfires into the weekend.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings – denoting conditions ripe for wildfires -- for much of Los Angeles County starting Wednesday night and continuing through Saturday night in some areas. In Orange County, a red flag warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Saturday for the Santa Ana Mountains and inland areas, including Anaheim, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Fullerton and Mission Viejo.
“The strongest winds are forecast to occur after sunset Wednesday night and continuing through Friday morning,'' National Weather Service forecasters said of the Orange County conditions. “Winds will continue quite strong through Saturday and it is this combination of strong winds and very low relative humidity that will result in this extended period of critical fire weather conditions over the mountains and valleys.''
In Los Angeles County, NWS forecasters said critical fire weather conditions will develop off and on over the next week, including Tuesday night in some areas that could see 30 to 45 mph winds and humidity as low as 5%. But conditions will worsen Wednesday, and forecasters warned that red flag conditions could continue “through early next week.''
Red flag warnings will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Saturday in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains and Santa Clarita Valley, where winds could gust up to 70 mph with humidity ranging from 5 to 15%. The San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and the coastal region -- which stretches inland to downtown Los Angeles – will have a red flag warning in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Friday, with gusts expected of 50 to 60 mph in the hills.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation due to an unusual duration of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds, and very dry air leading to very critical fire weather conditions,'' according to the NWS. “Any new fire ignition in these areas will likely have very dangerous fire spread that could potentially threaten life and property.''
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 Tuesday, the utility listed 33,415 customers in Los Angeles as being under consideration for possible shutoffs, along with 22,395 in Orange County.
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