Santa Clarita Valley residents were notified of possible power outages over the next couple of days after the threat of fierce Santa Ana winds prompted a wind advisory and a red flag warning to be posted by weather officials concerned about the threat of brush fires.
Students at both the William S. Hart Union High School District and at College of the Canyons were warned about the cautionary move by Southern California Edison to voluntarily shut off power in certain areas.
More than 49,000 Edison customers in Los Angeles County, including an unspecified number in the SCV, were notified about the possibility of outages over the next couple of days, Edison spokesman David L. Song said Wednesday afternoon.
Song said it is not known when or where, or for how long, the outages will take place.
The bottom line, he said, is that as long as the red flag warning remains in place, the possibility of outages remains in place.
“The notice remains in effect until the winds subside,” Song said.
“The folks in Santa Clarita have been notified,” he said. “It can happen at any time. It all depends on the weather.”
Red Flag Warning
Officials at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard posted an “urgent red flag warning” at 2:50 p.m. Wednesday due to gusty Santa Ana winds and very low humidity.
Weather officials explained reasons for the warning in a post on their website:
“A moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event will bring widespread critical fire weather conditions over most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties early Thursday through late Friday afternoon,” according to the post.
Wind gusts are forecast between 45 and 75 mph.
In terms of the fire threat, they noted minimum humidities are expected to be in the 3 to 10% range, creating dry (brush fire) fuel conditions.
“There is a chance that this warning will need to be extended into Saturday, especially for the mountains,” they posted.
The same weather officials issued a wind advisory an hour before they posted the red flag warning.
Hart District notices
David Caldwell, a spokesman for the Hart District, said in an email Wednesday: “Southern California Edison advised us that they might shut off power to certain areas of the eastern Santa Clarita Valley due to weather concerns.”
Hart District Deputy Superintendent Mike Kuhlman sent a letter to parents, which reads:
“Our district has received information from Southern California Edison about possible public safety power shutoff due to weather conditions. We were notified that the circuits in the district for multiple schools have the potential to be shut off starting tomorrow, Oct. 10.”
“We do not know when or if Southern California Edison will shut off the power since this is due to the weather conditions,” Kuhlman said.
Due to the potential of Edison shutting down the power, multiple Hart District schools will be on a minimum day schedule Thursday. It was not yet known if they will be on a minimum day schedule for Friday since Southern California Edison needs to monitor the weather conditions.
The normal transportation schedule will be in effect for a minimum day.
If a school site loses power prior to the start of classes, the district may cancel school. In that event, the district will notify parents that school will be cancelled for that site.
If a school site loses power after the start of classes, staff members are prepared to continue instruction until the end of the school’s regular minimum day schedule.
Should power outages occur, parents can expect updated communication from the district in three different ways:
1) Updates can be viewed on Hart District website, www.Hartdistrict.org.
2) The district will send out call/text/email notifications using the district’s mass communication system.
Staff at College of the Canyons received a similar notice Wednesday.
COC spokesman Eric Harnish notified colleagues about the prospect of power outages in a letter sent out Wednesday, which reads:
“As you may have seen in the news, Southern California Edison and other utility companies across California implemented ‘public safety power shutoffs,’ and warned of possible future power outages.
“This is a new program aimed at preventing wildfires. When high winds are forecast (as they are tomorrow, Thursday, Oct 10), Edison has identified key areas in the Santa Clarita Valley where overhead power lines could pose a risk of fire if the lines are knocked down. If the winds are predicted to be strong enough in the designated areas, the utilities will turn power off to those areas for the duration of the wind event.
“Edison released maps indicating where public safety power shutoffs may occur in the valley. At this time, neither campus is included in the areas that could be affected.
“What this means is that both the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses are scheduled to be open tomorrow, and classes are scheduled to take place as normal.”
On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt