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Public Safety

Forecasts Of Intense Santa Ana Conditions Prompt Wildfire Warnings

Sign on Highway 76 near Fallbrook and Bonsall warning of SDGE power outages and fire risk. October 26, 2020
Tania Thorne
Sign on Highway 76 near Fallbrook and Bonsall warning of SDGE power outages and fire risk. October 26, 2020

UPDATE: 12:25 p.m., Dec. 2, 2020

A predicted period of highly gusty and dry conditions across the San Diego area prompted authorities Wednesday to issue warnings of increased wildfire hazards and the potential for public-safety power shutoffs over the next several days in particularly at-risk locales.

Arid Santa Ana winds will increase in strength and become widespread across the county late Wednesday evening, with 50-mph gusts possible in the mountains and the western valleys, according to the National Weather Service.

On Thursday, humidity levels dipping below 10%, sustained 30-plus-mph winds and gusts of 60 mph or higher will create "extremely critical" combustion hazards in local mountain communities into the early afternoon, the federal agency reported. Affected highland areas include those east of Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido and Fallbrook, meteorologists advised.

In response to the expected atmospheric conditions, the NWS issued a red-flag wildfire warning for local inland valley and highland areas, effective from 6 Wednesday evening to 10 p.m. Saturday. The most intensive critical fire- weather conditions are expected to last from Wednesday evening through Friday morning, meteorologists advised.

Due to the wildfire warning, San Diego Gas & Electric on Tuesday notified about 88,700 of its customers in inland communities that they could be subject to public-safety power shutoffs from Wednesday night into the weekend, and potentially through Monday.

The dry and windy weather pattern is likely to continue into next week, though likely in a weakened manner, according to forecasters.