As Long Beach fire personnel help battle the fires that are ravaging northern parts of Los Angeles County, the Santa Ana winds that are propelling those flames could have implications for Southern California Edison (SCE) customers in Long Beach.
In a release issued by the city’s Department of Disaster Preparedness today Director Reggie Harrison said that SCE has indicated that because of the strong Santa Ana winds it could switch off parts of its grid in Long Beach as a safety precaution. The circuit that could potentially affect residents in the city is called the Pablo circuit and is located near the southern portion of Signal Hill, and if switched off, could impact residents in the Fourth and Sixth Districts.
“When SCE turns off power to a circuit it takes into account wind speeds higher than historical averages, humidity levels and other conditions,” Harrison said in the release. “The circuit will be reenergized when wind speeds are reduced and the circuit is assessed which may include physical inspection.”
Harrison added that if a circuit is turned off at night it will not be reenergized until “daylight hours” and that staff was working with SCE to develop a process to notify affected residents.
A representative from SCE referred the Post to its website where updates have been posted regarding the fire and winds impacting the region. As of 9:00AM SCE had yet to turn off any of the three circuits it expected could pose problems but its update stated that that could change if the weather worsens. It’s unclear how many residents in central and east Long Beach could be affected if SCE turns off the Pablo circuit.
“We understand the inconvenience of turning off electric service and will make every effort to reach out to customers in affected areas to make them aware and will work to notify fire and public safety agencies, as well as local and state officials in advance of shutting off power,” said Paul Grigaux, incident commander and SCE vice president of Transmission, Substations and Operations in the update.
Last night, Southern California residents received a mobile alert regarding the strong winds and their potential to spread fires. The Purple Alert—the first time the state has issued the highest rating on the state’s color-coded system for expected wind strength and corresponding fire danger— forecasts “extreme” wind speeds which could approach 80 miles per hour.
According to the National Weather Service, winds in Long Beach aren’t projected to reach the speeds that are expected in some parts of the county, with projections showing expected wind gusts to remain below 15 mph over the next few days.
However, the waters off of much of the county including Long Beach are under gale warnings with winds projected to reach as high as 47 knots (roughly 52 miles per hour) and the city is under a red flag warning due to low relative humidity combined with the windy conditions. The red flag warning is active through 8:00PM Saturday.
Outages can be tracked on the SCE website.