Gusty and dry Santa Ana winds will bring increased risk of wildfires to Southern California and possible public safety power shutoffs to about 43,000 San Diego area utility customers through the Thanksgiving period.
Red flag warnings for fire danger will be in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Friday for San Diego's mountains and valleys, and weather will remain very warm and dry through the weekend, the National Weather Service said.
Wind gusts are expected to range from 20 mph to 3 mph, with isolated gusts up to 65 mph, the NWS said. Winds were expected to peak overnight leading into Thanksgiving Day.
Relative humidity levels may drop as low as 2% but will likely be between 5 to 15% in San Diego County with little overnight recovery.
Public safety power shutoffs are intended to prevent wildfires from being ignited and spread if gusts damage power equipment or blow debris into power lines.
San Diego Gas & Electric was considering shutting off electricity to 43,276 customers.
Southern California Edison said power was cut to more than 460 customers in San Bernardino County and shutoffs were possible for more than 150,000 customers in six counties.
How you can help prevent wildfires
San Diego County government officials on Wednesday asked residents to stay alert for wildfires, and refrain from using power tools outdoors, including lawn mowers, as they can potentially spark on rocks and ignite grass or brush fires. Instead, residents should use hand tools to remove dead or dying plants near their homes.
The county also reminded residents to maintain defensible fire space around their homes and remove dead leaves, debris and other flammable items, such as wood piles, that are stacked against structures.
During a high fire season, people should also:
- be careful with smoking materials to avoid accidentally starting a fire;
- never pull their vehicle over in grass as it can ignite a blaze, and make sure their vehicle is well maintained; and
- if their vehicle has a trailer, make sure its chains don't drag on the ground while driving.