Study finds SCV among highest risk of ‘extreme climate impacts’ in L.A. County

A water dropping helicopter makes a drop in high winds as the Tick Fire burns down a canyon and treatens homes as viewed from Stonecrest Park in Canyon Country on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita Valley was among 47 communities across Los Angeles County deemed at high risk of being exposed to impending and severe climate impacts, according to a recent study released by the county’s Chief Sustainability Office.

An estimated 56% of L.A. County residents, or nearly 5.7 million, live in such high-risk areas, facing climate hazards like extreme heat, wildfire, inland flooding, extreme precipitation, coastal flooding and drought, per the study.

The Climate Vulnerability Assessment evaluates both present-day risks and projected changes in exposure by 2050, highlighting the communities that face dual dangers: increased exposure to climate hazards and high susceptibility to negative impacts.

Santa Clarita, which has a high proportion of older adults living alone and low transit access, according to the report, has a risk of exposure to both extreme heat and wildfire.

Extreme heat events are expected to increase in frequency, severity and duration, with up to a tenfold increase in the occurrence of heatwaves by mid-century, of which the largest increases are set to occur in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, per the report.

Moreover, the most vulnerable transmission lines and power plants are in the Santa Clarita Valley and northwest areas of L.A. County, the report added.

While the high vulnerability of energy infrastructure is reportedly a problem for all county residents, power outages, such as those conducted in high-risk fire areas — like the SCV — by Southern California Edison for safety during high wind events, especially impact those who depend on electrically powered medical devices, according to the study.

“The assessment of the vulnerability and criticality of our electricity infrastructure was an interesting finding in this comprehensive study, further emphasizing the need for partnership and collaboration in our efforts to strengthen grid reliability,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV, said in a prepared statement.

“The city of Santa Clarita is all too familiar with the real danger of wildfires. Living in this beautiful community, surrounded by thousands of acres of pristine open space, also means that wildfires are a natural part of the region we call home,” added city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan.

City officials encourage residents to do what they can to prepare their homes and families for a fire, following the steps laid out in the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ready! Set! Go! Plan to learn how to protect lives and homes from destructive wildfires.

The state government has provided nearly $15 billion over the next three years to help California communities prepare for extreme weather and climate-related disasters, and the report’s findings are set to guide the county’s future priorities for implementing its sustainability plan.

To view the full Climate Vulnerability Assessment, visit 

For more information on Ready! Set! Go!, visit 

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