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Cal Fire, SDG&E Prepare As High Winds Hit Southern California

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast said wind gusts could reach between 60 and 80 mph in some mountains and passes in Southern California through Friday morning.

Dan Berlant with Cal Fire said the state has increased the number of firefighters and fire engines in order to be ready.

SDG and E's High Winds Plan

The utility sent KPBS this plan in response to a request for information on how they handle high winds:

  • "While forecasters are predicting elevated wind conditions in some parts of San Diego County, the humidity levels are high and therefore, we are not activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). We will however have EOC personnel monitoring the situation as we would with any weather-related situation."
  • "As a precaution, we have staged SDG&E crews, trouble-shooters and contract firefighting crews in the areas where the winds are forecasted to be the strongest. Proactively locating crews in those areas will shorten response time if there is an outage."
  • "SDG&E provides information on outage weather conditions on sdge.com. This is where customers can access outage information. Customers can click on the Outages tab to find this information. Information that can be found on this site includes wind conditions, Red Flag Warnings and outage restoration information.- Because power outages can be expected during high winds, customers are encouraged to be prepared with flashlights, extra batteries and a phone that doesn't require electricity. Other safety tips can be found on sdge.com/safety. Customers can also call the customer service line at 1-800-411-SDGE.."
  • "If a customer experiences and outage, they should call 1-800-411-SDGE."

"Despite the fact that we are in winter, the fire danger will be up over the next couple of days," Berlant said. "People need to be extra cautious, because it's not going to take much. If you have a fire outdoors with this wind, it can quickly push it out of control."

Berlant said even though much of California has had a wet year with mild temperatures, the heavy winds can quickly bring dry conditions back.

Cal Fire plans to shift crews to wherever the fire danger increases the most as the wind picks up speed over the next few days.

NWS said a weather system is expected to generate potentially damaging winds and hazardous weather, mainly in the inland valleys and mountains of Southern California.

For the mountains, there is a high wind warning starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday and continuing through Friday afternoon. Northeast winds 20 to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph through Thursday are forecast, with the winds expected to weaken Thursday afternoon, before picking up again Thursday night and Friday morning.

The strongest winds are expected to be in the coastal areas of Orange County, the mountains and valleys of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and the Santa Ana mountains and foothills.

In those areas, the National Weather Service said north-to-northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected, with gusts to 45 mph Wednesday night, increasing to 35 to 45 mph and gusting up to 70 mph Thursday morning.

The forecast said wind gusts near 80 mph are possible for some passes and canyons in the San Bernardino and Santa Ana mountains.

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