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Santa Ana winds cause fires and potential blackouts

Santa Ana winds are expected to howl across Southland on Thanksgiving Day, offering the potential for critical fire weather and power outages just as people gather for their holiday meals. .

Weather monitoring for fires will be in effect from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon in much of Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties as well as the Inland Empire, the National Weather Service said. Isolated wind gusts of 60 mph are possible.

“Unfortunately, another good wind pattern in Santa Ana will start tomorrow,” San Diego National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Moreland said Tuesday, noting that humidity levels would drop to single digits until Friday.

“So the problem is, if a fire breaks out, we could see a rapid spread,” he said.

Southern California Edison said on Tuesday that nearly 99,000 customers could be affected by a public safety power outage to reduce the risk of blasting blown utility lines.

Interior areas of Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Los Angeles counties could experience the biggest blackouts, the utility said. Kern and Orange counties could also be affected.

Edison spokesman in Southern California Ben Gallagher said power outages are “not something we take lightly,” especially during the holidays.

“We are looking at all high fire risk areas to avoid the potential for forest fires, but we also understand the difficulties that this entails. [shutoffs] place on our customers, so we keep a very close eye, ”he said.

Last year, more than 75,000 Edison customers in Southern California faced power outages under similar conditions while on vacation. This has been a particularly dry year, with very little rain until November, officials said.

“The combination of these gusty winds, low humidity and continued dry vegetation is likely to create critical weather conditions for fires during this period,” the National Weather Service said.

It will also be a balmy Thanksgiving, with high temperatures hovering around 85 degrees in parts of the interior Thursday and Friday.

As a result, red flag warnings will “most likely” be issued for most Los Angeles and Ventura counties for Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, with luck continuing through Friday, officials said.

Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the Oxnard Weather Service, noted that Thomas’ monstrous 2017 fire ignited in early December under similar conditions.

This fire burned approximately 281,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

“This was back when there was a really strong wind from Santa Ana with very dry air,” Sirard said, adding that the fall months are “usually the peak of the Santa Ana season. “.

Gusty Santa Anas could also make driving difficult, especially in mountain passes and areas with strong cross winds, officials said.

Those winds will strengthen as millions hit the road: The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts 3.8 million Southern Californians will travel to Thanksgiving destinations this year, up 9% from one year ago.

Residents are advised to take precautions when traveling and to be especially careful with any source of ignition.

“The public should be very careful with anything that could start a fire,” the weather service said. Those who live near fire-prone areas such as national forests should establish and review family plans in the event of an evacuation order.

“This is especially important with unconscious visitors during the holiday week,” the weather service said.

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