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Thanksgiving weekend in Orange County will see Santa Ana winds, low humidity

SCE estimates 8,571 customers in O.C. could be affected by power outages between Wednesday and Friday.
Southern California Edison estimates 8,571 customers in Orange County could be affected by power outages between midday Wednesday and midday Friday, though the company said it would try to restore power during periods of calm in the winds.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Turkey won’t be the only thing that might be dry this Thanksgiving.

Santa Ana winds will be sweeping across Orange County, bringing with it a red flag warning from the National Weather Service that will continue through Friday evening. The warning has also been issued in parts of the Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Winds are expected to reach 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Meteorologists expect humidity to remain at around 7% to 10% in inland Orange County on Thursday and begin to recover Saturday.

“The combination of those gusty winds and those really dry conditions is going to create critical fire weather conditions. If a fire were to start outside, there’s a very high chance that it will spread rapidly and could be difficult to get under control for fire officials,” said meteorologist Casey Oswant.

Micah Schmiedeskamp and his daughter Nellie from Nebraska.
Micah Schmiedeskamp and his daughter Nellie from Nebraska enjoy a warm November day at the beach near Balboa Pier. Warm, dry Santa Ana conditions are expected throughout Thanksgiving weekend.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Temperatures are expected to be in the 80s this weekend, but closer to the lower 80s in coastal Orange County, consistent with recent weather conditions. On Sunday, Newport Beach reached 85 degrees, breaking its previous high, set in 1998, by one degree.

Oswalt said the arrival of the Santa Ana winds is relatively common for this time of year, though the strongest gusts will be confined to the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains and Fremont Canyon.

The oncoming winds and dry conditions are a point of concern for Southern California Edison, which on Tuesday was considering public power safety shutoffs in parts of Rancho Santa Margarita.

Spokesman Ben Gallagher said shutoffs would depend on weather conditions and what on-the-ground experts determined would be safe or not, particularly in high fire risk areas as debris could fly into equipment and cause sparking.

Edison estimates 8,571 customers in Orange County could be potentially impacted between midday Wednesday through midday Friday, though the company said it would try to restore power during periods of calm wind conditions.

A fisherman fishes off the Balboa Pier on a balmy November day.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We also know that this is a time of year when people are getting together, especially we also understand this is the first time in a long time that people have been able to get together,” Gallagher said. “We know the hardship [a power outage] creates. We live here too in the service area and our families too; it’s not something that we take lightly.

“It’s something that we’re only going to do as a last resort if we feel it absolutely has to happen. It’s really being caught between a couple of different decisions: we can de-energize the lines and potentially have people without power on Thanksgiving or we don’t do it and it’s sort of a gamble,” he added. “These winds are really … high speed.

“Are we going to take that chance? Maybe it won’t happen, but that’s the formula you’re looking at. It’s a difficult decision and it’s one that there’s a lot of deliberation over,” Gallagher said.

Readers can check if they will be impacted by a public power safety shutoff by Southern California Edison at sce.com/wildfire/psps.

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