Red flag warning: SoCal braces for Santa Ana winds to increase fire danger Saturday through Monday

Saturday, October 28, 2023
SoCal braces for increased fire danger amid intense Santa Ana winds
The first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season is expected to bring dry and gusty conditions to a large swath of the Southland.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season is expected to bring dry and gusty conditions to a large swath of the Southland beginning Saturday evening, raising concerns about possible brush fires and wind-related power outages.

The windy conditions are expected to primarily affect the northern portion of Los Angeles County, enveloping the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, along with the Malibu coast, Santa Monica Mountains, Calabasas, the San Gabriel Mountains and the 5 and 14 freeway corridors.

Red flag warnings indicating critical fire danger conditions will be in place for those areas from 3 a.m. Sunday through 10 p.m. Monday, although the winds are expected to kick up starting Saturday evening.

"The onset of Santa Ana winds will bring rapid drying to the region late Saturday night, with widespread single digit humidities Sunday into Monday," according to the National Weather Service. "The strongest Santa Ana winds are expected Sunday, when gusts of 35 to 50 mph will be common, except gusts of 50 to 65 mph likely in the Los Angeles county mountains, Santa Susana mountains, western Santa Monicas, and wind prone foothills. Dry and breezy offshore flow conditions will persist into Tuesday which may extend critical fire weather conditions across portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties."

Wind-prone coastal and valley areas, will experience winds ranging from 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

The red flag warnings will be accompanied in most areas by high wind warnings.

In Orange County, high wind warnings will be in place from 11 p.m. Saturday through 10 p.m. Monday in the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills and inland areas, with 20 to 30 mph winds anticipated and isolated gusts of up to 70 mph. OC coastal areas will be under a less-severe wind advisory, with winds gusting up to 45 mph.

The combination of gusting winds and dry conditions across most of L.A. County will raise the risk of wildfires.

"If fire ignition occurs, there could be rapid spread of wildfire that would lead to a threat of life and property," according to the NWS.

Southern California Edison officials said the utility has begun reaching out to customers and public safety agencies about the possibility of Public Safety Power Shutoffs, in which power is cut in areas being battered by heavy winds that could damage electrical lines or equipment and spark wildfires.

According to Edison, roughly 150,240 of the utility's 5 million customers are being notified that they are within areas that could potentially be impacted by the power cuts.

Edison offered a series of safety and preparation tips for residents:

-- Check emergency supplies and have a battery-operated radio, flashlight and fresh batteries handy.

-- Secure any temporary structures in backyards or businesses, including backyard furniture and tents, patio equipment and covers used in commercial settings.

-- Do not touch downed power lines, but call 911 immediately.

-- Don't try to remove a broken tree limb or branch that has come in contact with a power line.

-- At intersections where traffic signals are out, the crossings should be treated by motorists as four-way stops.

-- If a power line falls on a vehicle, remain inside the vehicle and call 911.

-- Use flashlights at home rather than candles to reduce fire danger.

-- For people who use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into it, using a heavy-duty extension cord.

-- Do not use any equipment inside that is designed for outdoor heating or cooking, due to possible emission of carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.