Santa Ana winds could bring power outages, LADWP warns

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is warning customers to prepare for possible power outages due to Santa Ana winds that are expected to blow in Friday.

"During high wind events, reports of power outages may increase due to downed lines from tree branches and other flying debris," the utility said in a statement.


The Santa Ana winds expected to begin gusting Friday will blow across a Southland experiencing one of its driest years in more than a century.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings across Southern California, and firefighting agencies have already started positioning more resources in key areas.

Forecasters expect gusts of up to 50 mph, and dangerously dry conditions are increasing the risk of fire.

Just .09 inches of rain has fallen in the last three months, said Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert.

This year was was the sixth-driest year in 135 recorded years, Patzert said.

"I can't exaggerate how crispy it is out there," he said. "It's really just super dry."

CalFire Chief Ken Pimlott said the addition of strong winds "makes this time of year a perfect recipe for wildfires."

The Los Angeles County Fire Department will be staffing 22 additional firefighter positions, as well as two strike teams of fire engines and lighter brush patrol trucks, Inspector Anthony Akins said.

The department will also have additional water tenders and other resources in areas that include Malibu and the Santa Clarita Valley.

Red flag warnings and fire weather watches have also been issued for the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento Valley and northeastern California.

CalFire said it would beef up its stations across the state so that firefighters would be ready for an aggressive attack if wildfires break out.

A healthy rainfall can help mitigate the effects of a Santa Ana wind, wetting vegetation and reducing the likelihood of fires. But total precipitation for the first nine months of this year amounted to just 23% of the area's typical rainfall, Patzert said.

Across the state, firefighters have battled an unusually high number of fires.

Already this year, more than 5,600 fires have burned more than 146,000 acres. The five-year average is 4,000 wildfires by this time of year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.