LOS ANGELES – Tens of thousands of residents are at risk of power outages Wednesday and Thursday due to powerful winds blowing through Southern California and causing an increased threat of wildfires.
The National Weather Service offices in San Diego and Los Angeles issued Wind Advisories for some areas as gusty north to northeast winds are expected. For example, Los Angeles and Ventura counties may see winds blowing 20-45 mph with gusts to 55 mph.
These winds, known as Santa Ana winds, are winds that blow from the Santa Ana Mountains and bring in hot, dry air from the east side of the mountain range. While they can happen any time of year, they usually occur during the fall and winter months.
These winds have the potential to blow around unsecured objects and cause tree limbs to be blown down, according to the NWS.
The NWS also warned of the potential for fire weather conditions because of the high winds. This is due to very low humidity levels on Wednesday and Thursday, setting the stage for fast fire growth if one were to ignite.
A Fire Weather Warning has been issued by the NWS office in Los Angeles for the mountains and wind-prone valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as well as the Malibu coast. The warning is in effect from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST Thursday.
Because of the increased fire risk, local energy provider Southern California Edison, or SoCal Edison, is considering what they call Public Safety Power Shutoffs, or PSPS, on Wednesday for San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Of the 20 most destructive fires in the history of California, six were sparked by downed power lines, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It added that 53% of the acres burned in 2017 were caused by electrical equipment and power lines.