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Climate and Environment

Heads Up, LA: A Dry And Windy Thanksgiving Means Fire Danger

A palm tree sways in the wind, with a blue sky behind it.
(Photo by Meduana
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The Santa Ana winds are bringing an extra guest to Thanksgiving: a Red Flag warning. The National Weather Service has issued the warning for most of Los Angeles County, starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday to Friday at 6 p.m.

Winds are expected to roar up in the morning, bringing added risk to an already dry weekend. Humidity could drop tomorrow as low as 2 to 8%, according to the NWS.

“For this season, it's the strongest event that we've had so far in terms of the wind speeds, and how many areas could experience the winds and low humidity,” says Mark Jackson, a meteorologist at NWS. “It's very low and widespread.”

The warning includes L.A.’s coastal areas and mountain ranges, and parts of Riverside and Orange counties.

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The conditions could clear up before Friday, but it’s too soon to know. A fire weather watch, which usually precedes a warning, was previously in effect.

“We're vigilant and starting operations tomorrow. We ask people to be extra careful,” said Brian Humphries, a spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

As with last weekend’s Red Flag Warning, Southern California Edison is putting some of its customers on watch for possible power shut offs.

Officials said 98,000 SCE residents in areas stretching through parts of Kern, Ventura, L.A., Orange counties and into the Inland Empire should prepare for the possibility of their power being temporarily shut down.

“We’re anticipating right now that noon Wednesday to noon on Friday are periods of concern,” says David Song, Public Information Officer for Southern California Edison.

Making the decision to shut power off during Thanksgiving is not lost on the utility company.

Calling the wind event “extreme,” Song says “for a lot of our customers this might be their first kind of semi-normal Thanksgiving they’ve had...for this to happen, it’s quite a difficult decision to make.”

High gusts of winds, low humidity and dry fuel are just some of the variables taken into consideration when deciding to shut power off. Residents can monitor shut offs in their neighborhoods by logging on to the SCE Public Power Shut Off page.

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