Power shutoffs possible as high winds bring increased fire danger to parts of SoCal

Santa Ana winds - likely the strongest so far this season - will buffet the Southland amid sharply cooler temperatures Monday.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
SoCal could see power shutoffs as winds, fire danger rise
Santa Ana winds - likely the strongest so far this season - will buffet the Southland amid sharply cooler temperatures Monday.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Santa Ana winds - likely the strongest so far this season - will buffet the Southland amid sharply cooler temperatures Monday and combine with low humidity and dry vegetation to create an increased danger of wildfire through Tuesday

"Moderate to strong Santa Ana winds are expected to develop across most of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties late Sunday night through Tuesday, likely the strongest Santa Ana event we have seen so far this season," the National Weather Service said in a statement. The strongest winds are expected late Sunday night through Monday evening, "when damaging gusts of 60 to 80 miles per hour can be expected in the mountains, gusts of 50 to 60 mph in the wind-prone valleys, and gusts of 35 to 50 mph from the Ventura coast to Malibu and the Hollywood Hills,'' according to the NWS.

The weather service also warned that "the moderate to strong Santa Ana winds coupled with very low humidities and very dry fuels will likely bring the most dangerous fire weather conditions we have seen since October 2019 to Los Angeles and Ventura counties.''

A vegetation fire that broke out in the Santiago Canyon area near Irvine Monday morning burned at least 50 acres.

RELATED: Firefighters battle 50-acre fire burning in Santiago Canyon area near Irvine amid strong winds

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison warned customers of potential power shutoffs to reduce the risk of wildfires. Nearly 25,000 customers in Los Angeles County, over 21,000 in San Bernardino County and 10,500 in Orange County could lose power. Similar figures are possible in Riverside and Ventura counties.

"We are very, very concerned with the safety of our communities. We've seen that conditions in Southern California, and across California, for high fire risk are more and more risk," said Ron Gales with Southern California Edison.

A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire will be in force until 6 p.m. Tuesday in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, and the L.A. Coastal zone, which extends from beach cities to the Hollywood Hills. In inland Orange County, the red flag warning went into effect at 2 a.m. Monday and will remain in force until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Some of the strongest winds are expected along the Grapevine, according to the NWS.

RELATED: Easy Fire: SoCal Edison equipment failure caused blaze that burned 1,860 acres in Ventura County

Ventura County fire investigators say equipment failure on an electrical transmission line owned and operated by So-Cal Edison sparked the blaze.

A wind advisory accompanying the red flag warning went into effect at 11 p.m. Sunday in much of the region, with the high winds and low humidity combining to elevate the fire danger despite relatively cool temperatures.

L.A. County's Office of Emergency Management said it will be prepared.

"Our emergency response officials are world-class and will stand ready to defend lives and property,'' Director Kevin McGowan said on Sunday afternoon. "We need collaboration from all residents who live in L.A. County to stay safe as a region. We must all do our part by staying informed and being ready to evacuate at a moment's notice, especially if you live in canyon, mountain or foothill communities.''

In an interview with ABC7, McGowan said the "widespread event" would impact the entire county, "not just from the fire threat but power outages."

He urged Southland residents to "lock up all those loose things that you typically have out" and could potentially be toppled over.

County officials also recommend signing up for emergency alerts, keeping mobile phones charged, and clearing out hazards such as dry leaves from gutters.

RELATED | What to prepare in case of a wildfire evacuation

If there's time, here is a list of essentials to take with you during a wildfire evacuation. Above all else, follow instructions given and get out of harm's way.

The L.A. County Fire Department said it has boosted staffing in response to the red flag warning, with Fire Chief Daryl Osby ordering pre-deployment of resources throughout the County.

Despite the fire danger, freezing overnight temperatures are expected across the Antelope Valley Monday and Tuesday. A freeze warning will be in effect until 9 a.m. Monday in the Antelope Valley, and a hard-freeze watch from late Monday tonight through Tuesday morning.

"To prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes, they should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly. Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them and cover above-ground pipes to protect them from freezing," the NWS said.

FULL FORECAST: Powerful winds trigger red flag warning for region

A wind advisory will be in effect until 8 Monday morning in the San Gabriel Valley followed by a more serious high wind warning from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. During the warning, north-to-northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph are expected, along with 65-mph gusts, mainly in the foothills and near the 210 Freeway corridor, warned the NWS, which added that 75-mph gusts are possible.

A high wind warning is also scheduled to be in effect until 3 p.m. Tuesday in the San Gabriel Mountains amid winds of 30 to 45 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph, with the odd 80-mph gusts swirling on higher peaks. The strongest winds will blow along the Interstate 5 and Highway 14 corridors, forecasters said.

City News Service contributed to this report.