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SDG&E warns 88,700 customers in San Diego County they could lose power

Forecasted wind gusts in Southern California.
(National Weather Service)

Responding to forecasts for high winds that could knock down power lines, San Diego Gas & Electric on Tuesday afternoon notified about 88,700 customers — many living in backcountry areas — that they could lose power in the coming days.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning starting Wednesday evening and running through Saturday evening, predicting strong, potentially damaging, Santa Ana winds.

SDG&E said the possible cutoffs could come as early as Wednesday. Customers in coastal areas may also lose power.

Called “public safety power shutoffs,” the preemptive de-energizing of lines is a strategy California utilities have increasingly used to reduce the risk of high winds knocking down power lines and potentially igniting wildfires.

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“We’ve been working closely with the National Weather Service forecasters, and we are now feeling confident a strong Santa Ana wind will develop [Wednesday] evening, strengthen into Thursday morning and then linger into the weekend,” said Brian D’Agostino, SDG&E’s director of fire science and climate adaptation.

The high winds are not limited to the San Diego area but will span Southern California.

The weather service also issued a high wind watch that could see gusts of up to 60 mph in San Diego County’s backcountry areas, with localized winds up to 80 mph in coastal mountain slope and foothill locations.

D’Agostino said the 60 mph gusts could occur in the eastern side of Valley Center, Ramona and Julian. Other affected areas include Descanso, Campo and Mount Laguna.

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“Areas like Encinitas could see some gusty winds as well,” he said.

A particularly hot summer in the San Diego area has led to dry conditions and low humidity in recent days, which adds to the risk of wildfires.

SDG&E said it will post updates at sdgenews.com as needed.

Nikolewski writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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