Santa Ana winds will return amid dry conditions Wednesday night, significantly raising the risk of wildfires and prompting San Diego Gas & Electric to warn tens of thousands of customers of potential power shutoffs.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Saturday due to high winds and low humidity that have the potential to spread wildfires. A High Wind Warning is also in effect from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday as Santa Ana winds reach their peak in San Diego County's mountains and western valleys.
During a Red Flag Warning, any fires that spark will likely spread rapidly, the NWS said. Damaging winds could occur, capable of downing trees and power lines.
As a result, SDG&E announced that 88,700 customers in fire-prone areas may have their power shut off starting Wednesday night in order to prevent wildfires caused by downed power lines amid gusty winds. The Public Safety Power Shutoffs, PSPS as referred to by SDG&E, may occur at any point until Monday, the agency said.
To take a look at what areas are at risk of possible shutoffs, click here.
Cal Fire San Diego said they were "staffed up and ready" for the increasing winds.
"The wind event beginning this evening in SoCal is going to be stronger, last longer and impact a much greater area than other recent events. We are staffed up and ready, but we need everyone's help," the agency said in a tweet.
San Diego County emergency officials urged residents take precautions themselves to prevent wildfires like removing any dead or dying plants and debris near homes with hand tools. Other tips can be found here.
The county also encourages all residents to sign up for AlertSanDiego or ListoSanDiego to be notified by cell phone notification of evacuation warnings and other emergency updates. The County's SD Emergency App or website can also be downloaded for the latest updates in the event of an emergency.
While winds picked up on Tuesday, they will become more widespread Wednesday night, with 50 mph gusts possible in the mountains and the western valleys, according to the NWS. On Thursday, humidity will drop to around 10% with poor overnight recovery.
The winds were expected to slowly weaken and become more localized on Friday and Saturday, forecasters said.