This could be the year’s most dangerous fire weather event in Southern California.
Hundreds of thousands of residents in the region could lose power over the holiday weekend due to a combination of high temperatures, high winds, and low humidity.
Second, only to the 2020 August Complex Fire, the Dixie Fire was the largest wildfire in California history.
Isolated wind gusts of 70mph in the foothills and mountains are expected to occur, while humidity levels are expected to fall to a low of 2% by Thursday. People are being warned to evacuate in the event of a nearby fast-moving fire, and officials hope that both residents and their guests will be prepared to do so.
National Weather Service wrote in a forecast discussion that “the public should be extra cautious with anything that could start a fire,” and that the region could see the strongest Santa Ana wind event yet this season.
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As a precaution, those who live in areas that are at risk of wildfires, like national forests, should make or review their family plans, including what to take and evacuation routes, the warning stated. Visitors who aren’t paying attention during the holidays are especially at risk.
As a result of the increased risks, Southern California Edison, which serves more than 5 million households and businesses in the region, said it was considering cutting power to over 151,000 customers in six counties. In addition, San Diego Gas & Electric is considering turning off power to over 43,000 customers. There had been no power interruptions from either utility as of Wednesday morning.
Temperatures and desiccation have increased in the American west, resulting in a longer fire season. Even though October’s deluge of rain in northern California reduced fire dangers, the Golden State remains in a state of severe drought. According to the US Drought Monitor, 80 percent of California has been classified as “extreme drought,” with large swaths of the state’s southern and central regions classified as “exceptional drought.”
The region’s parched plants are already ready to blaze, but the combination of strong wind and low air moisture can quickly turn ignitions into inferno-inducing blazes.
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Scientist Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles said in a tweet that “NorCal is, largely, out of the woods this year when it comes to large/fast-moving wildfire potential.” Swain is a climate scientist. There hasn’t been much rain in Southern California in recent weeks, and vegetation remains extremely dry.
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