Power shut-offs continue in SCV amid Red Flag conditions

Traffic signals are out on Sierra Highway at Education Highway in Canyon Country on Thursday, 120320. Dan Watson/The Signal

Some Santa Clarita Valley residents were without power Thursday morning, while others remained under consideration for power shut-offs amid Red Flag conditions.

Southern California Edison officials announced earlier in the week the possibility of power shut-offs for some of its customers as winds began to pick up. 

By Thursday, more than 1% of Edison’s 5 million customers were without power, along with 9,935 across L.A. County, which included parts of Canyon Country and much of Agua Dulce and Acton, according to Edison’s outage map.

Southern California Edison’s power shut-off map, as of noon Thursday, Dec.3, 2020. Courtesy

Estimated restoration of power to some of these areas was 3 p.m. Friday while others were unavailable, with estimates expected to be updated as weather conditions improve.

“SoCal Edison doesn’t shut off power based on weather forecasts, but only on weather conditions in specific areas,” utility spokesman Paul Griffo said in a previous Signal interview, adding that with patrols in the affected areas, the utility is working to limit the number of affected customers. 

This comes as the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning set to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Friday, with critical fire weather conditions and damaging winds. 

“(Thursday) was the strongest winds, but we’ll continue to see some winds (Friday) and into the weekend,” NWS meteorologist David Sweet said. 

Winds are expected to continue into Friday, though much lighter, with gusts of 40-45 mph in the Santa Clarita area, according to Sweet.

Portable stop signs stand at the corner of Sierra Highway and Campus Exit in Canyon Country as the traffic signals are out on Thursday, 120320. Dan Watson/The Signal

“However, we will stay very dry, and so that’s part of the problem, too,” Sweet added. “Relative humidities don’t recover. They’re going to stay down in the single digits or close to it for the weekend, and into next week, as well.” 

Gusts of 76 mph were logged in the San Gabriel Mountains, just east of the Newhall pass, early Thursday morning, according to NWS officials.

NWS officials also noted the chance of another wind event on Monday or Tuesday that would be close to the strength of winds felt Thursday morning.

“Conditions are going to continue to be fairly, fairly dry and have significant concern for rapid spread of fires (into next week),” Sweet added.

The power shut-offs are used to reduce the risk of potential wildfires caused by electrical lines sparking during strong wind weather conditions as alerted by the NWS.

“We have five fire risk areas that have been identified by the California Public Utilities Commission, and those are the areas that are most likely under consideration for PSPS,” said Chris Abel, a spokesman for Edison. “But it really has to do with the conditions and what’s happening out there. It’s the real weather conditions that we’re seeing, it’s the debris that might be floating around from the wind that we’re seeing, in addition to the weather forecast and other things.”

The Sourthern California Edison, Solemint Substation on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country on Thursday, 120320. Dan Watson/The Signal

Some of those “other things” Edison takes into consideration are specific origination of each power line, meaning that some residents may have power, while their neighbors don’t, as those power lines originate from different circuits, per officials. 

The power at College of the Canyons’ Canyon Country campus went out around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, but had little effect on operations, as only a handful of classes remain in-person, according to spokesman Eric Harnish.

“We did have an auto technology class that was meeting at the Canyon Country campus today, but the class ended and the students were dismissed once the power went out — so other than that, no real interruptions,” Harnish said Thursday.

On Wednesday, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced it had prepositioned firefighting resources and personnel in four Southern California counties, including in L.A. County, which was issued a water tender and dispatcher, as well as a state strike team of five fire engines with 15 firefighters and a team leader. 

“The public is urged to remain aware of their surrounding conditions and to avoid outdoor activities that can cause a spark near dry vegetation, such as yard work, target shooting, or campfires, and follow local fire restrictions,” CalOES said in a Wednesday news release. “The public is also reminded to have an emergency plan in place, emergency preparedness kits at home and vehicles full of fuel.”

For status on a SoCal Edison outage, sign up to receive alerts via sce.com/wildfire/psps-alerts, or call 1-800-655-4555‫.

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