More than 17 MILLION in Southern California had to spend Thanksgiving under wildfire warnings
A Southern California wind event that led to gusts of up to 89 miles per hour this Thanksgiving holiday had more than 17 million people living under wildfire warnings.
It comes after thousands in Southern California were without power for the second year in a row on Thanksgiving as the region’s largest utility shut down service amid the risk of strong winds sparking wildfires.
Friday evening there were still a few thousand in the region without service.
Edison International of Southern California has cut power to 63,835 homes and businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
The shutdown began around 10:36 a.m. local time on Thursday, Thanksgiving.
Edison cuts off the power to prevent electric wires from sparking and possibly starting wildfires if a windstorm hit the area.
Utilities suggested that more than 200,000 accounts could lose service between the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.
A Los Angeles County location so a gust of wind to 89 miles per hour early Thursday. However, no wildfires were reported, although there was an 18-acre blaze in the San Diego area on Thursday.
Winds eased Friday, but threats of widespread wind gusts from 35 to 60 miles per hour were expected with up to 75 miles per hour possible, according to the National Weather Service.
A Southern California wind event that led to gusts of up to 89 miles per hour this holiday weekend had more than 17 million people living under wildfire warnings
An 18-acre wildfire broke out near San Diego on Thursday morning
Dry conditions and gusty winds prompted the weather service to issue a red flag warning for several counties in Southern California until 6 p.m. local time Friday. Red flags signal dangerous weather conditions where wildfires can spark and spread unpredictably. Fire brigades will deploy additional personnel as long as the warnings are in effect.
At least 17 million people live where red flag warnings were still in effect Friday, the Weather Service said.
“These are very strong winds,” said Gabriela Ornelas, a spokesperson for Edison in Southern California.
The wind can blow debris into power lines and fuel fires, which is why public safety power cuts have been implemented.
Better weather was forecast for the weekend.
“There will be a few gusts every morning on Saturday and Sunday, but nothing close to recommended levels,” the weather service said.
Wildfires caused by power cables, like this one pictured from 2019, are the reasons for the closures
Edison crews (pictured in a stock photo) must check power lines after the wind before power can be restored
Voluntarily shutting down high-voltage power lines for high winds has become somewhat of a new norm in the region after a series of deadly wildfires were caused by their equipment.
Last Thanksgiving, more than 20,000 homes and businesses went out of power for the holidays, exacerbated only by the fact that some had to take shelter due to the pandemic.
A red flag warning, the highest possible warning, was posted to warn people in the area of strong, dry winds from Santa Barbara to the US-Mexico border through Friday.
This came after an 18-acre wildfire broke out near San Diego earlier Thursday. No one was injured.
The United States Storm Prediction Center claimed these are fire weather events.
San Diego Gas and Electric has had to cut power to thousands of customers
Kevin McGowan, chief of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management
Kevin McGowan, chief of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, advised residents to stay informed and be ready to evacuate, especially if they live in canyons, mountains or hills.
Service in both the Los Angeles and San Diego regions will be restored once utilities can examine power lines for wind damage.
More than 3.1 million acres of state and federal land in California were burned by more than 8,000 fires in 2021 alone.
The fires have killed three people and claimed three lives, according to the Ministry of State Forestry.
The problem is only getting worse as human-induced climate change has caused a more than 20-year megadrought along the West Coast, firefighters said.