Strong Santa Ana winds are expected to blow into Southern California Thursday, Oct. 9, increasing risks of wildfires and leading to warnings of power shut offs to more than 170,000 households in the area.
The wind system could bring gusts of 70 mph to areas in LA County and 60 mph gusts to areas of Orange County and the Inland Empire, forecasters say. Combined with the warmer temperatures and lower humidity is a recipe for wildfires.
“We get high pressure that’s centered over the mountains … with that comes the northern and easterly winds that pick up,” National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Roser said. That’s what’s happening with the weather system that’s moving in late Wednesday, Oct. 9, into Thursday morning.
Cal Fire is increasing staffing levels as the potential for a large, destructive fire increases and the National Weather Service has issued red-flag warnings for much of the region. October and November is a time when the state tends to see increased fire activity, Cal Fire officials have said, and last year, the Woolsey fire and the deadly Camp fire started on the same day in November.
Warnings by utility companies have also increased as they prepare for the arrival of the Santa Ana winds on Thursday, which will kick off 24-to-36 hours of extreme gusts, Roser said.
About 120,000 of the at-risk Southern California Edison customers are in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Many of those affected are in foothills and mountainous areas. Other counties affected include Inyo, Kern, Mono, Tulare and Ventura.
On Wednesday night, the gusts will gradually grow from 5 mph and the humidity will drop. The winds aren’t likely to impact Game 5 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium since the heavy winds won’t arrive until morning.
Low humidity is caused by cold air and a drying-out effect that happens when the gusts blow across mountain slopes.
“It’s going to feel a lot drier when (people) wake up in the morning,” Roser said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no shutoffs had been ordered in SCE’s service area.
“We’ll analyze historical data to help predict the likelihood of a wildfire occurring,” according to the SCE website.
“During these events, we may need to proactively shut off power temporarily as a result of elevated weather conditions … that can cause a power line to fall and spark, possibly creating a wildfire.”
In other parts of the state, power companies have planned to cut service to hundreds of thousands of customers in hopes of reducing fire risk brought on by the windy conditions.