As the year is coming to an end, it does not seem as though fire season is over. A Red Flag Warning and potential public safety power shutoffs continue to impact areas of Southern California. To many Southern California residents’ dismay, these unfavorable conditions could impact them during Christmas Eve.
To date, six Red Flag Warnings have been issued for Southern California solely in December 2020. December 2018 and December 2019 both did not have any Red Flag Warnings issued in California. With this year’s record-breaking fire season, the continued extreme fire weather conditions do not seem surprising. The most recent Red Flag Warning issued is due to gusty Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Wind gusts could reach 40-60 mph in wind prone areas. Humidity levels will continue to drop and could be as low as 3-15% in certain regions. The combination of strong, gusty winds, low relative humidity, dry vegetation, and warm temperatures create the potential for extreme fire behavior with any new fire ignitions. These conditions will remain until midday on Christmas Eve.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs and Lack of Rainfall
Unfortunately, the persistent extreme fire weather conditions could cause thousands of Southern California residents to experience public safety power shut offs on Christmas Eve. SoCal Edison stated Kern, LA, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, and San Bernardino Counties may experience power shut offs. Vegetation remains critically dry, as Southern California has received very small amounts of rain so far during what is usually the start of the rainy season. Moderate drought conditions are present in Los Angeles due to the lack of wetting rains. Rainfall has been less than 5% of the average since October 1. It is important for utility companies to take precautions with extreme fire conditions in place to prevent downed power lines from starting wildfires. Luckily, a Pacific storm will move into the region Sunday evening. This storm will have the potential for wetting rains through Monday.