Information from SCE on current PSPS
This information has been provided by SCE
Here is information we want to share with you to answer questions you might have regarding the current PSPS event. The event starts today (Monday) and is expected to last through Wednesday. Starting today, January 18th, SCE is implementing PSPS where needed to help prevent ignitions.
During this event, our forecasts indicate prolonged periods of widespread gusts of 50-65 MPH, with some exposed areas forecasted to have gusts that peak at 75-90 MPH. While some weather models indicate the potential for rainfall and increased humidity mid-week, the winds will arrive before the rain. The period of concern will end with the arrival of more humid conditions. The current PSPS outage map reflects the current conditions. We have crews standing by to restore power to customers as quickly as it is safe to do so whenever the winds subside, even if that means that we will be shutting off the power again if the winds pick up again.
Please remember we must inspect all lines before we restore power. That means there will be a lag between when the winds subside and when power can be restored in any given area.
Weather/Conditions: While Southern California saw some precipitation in the last few days of 2020, unfortunately, fire season is not over. Recent fuel sampling indicates the vegetation is still unseasonably dry and ripe for larger fires during windy periods. The last two months of 2020 were part of the worst fire season that California has seen – with near record levels of dryness in November and December. Average rainfall totals across Central and Southern California remain 50-75% below normal for this time of the year.
The combination of Santa Ana winds and the lack of precipitation has caused this year’s fire season to extend beyond its normal boundaries. Typically, fire season ends by early to mid-November which is around the time the region begins to see consistent precipitation, or at least enough to cause fuels to be nonresponsive to ignitions. There have been other dry years in which fire season extended into the winter months. Recent examples of this include:
- 2017 fire season--- did not end until significant precipitation occurred on 1/9/18
- 2013 fire season--did not end until later in January 2014. (The January 2014 Colby Fire burned nearly 2,000 acres above Glendora.)
- There have also been other years in the 2000s when fire season extended into January/February of the following year.
A note about humidity readings: When coupled with high sustained winds, even relative humidity levels up to 42% during daytime, or 80% during nighttime, are considered fire warning weather. The table below (also available here) summarizes the NWS guidance for California.
Notifications: Local, county, and state officials, emergency management agencies, and fire authorities will be notified regarding any PSPS activity in our service territory and customers will been notified of the need to prepare for these possible outages. SCE’s Account management team is communicating with hospitals and medical providers identified by CalOES as COVID vaccination or storage facilities to inform them both of the potential PSPS event today (Monday) through Wednesday and of the extended windstorm and potential for storm-related outages.
Mitigations: SCE is examining all scheduled maintenance work in the areas that could be impacted by PSPS and will be cancelling scheduled work unless that work is immediately needed to protect public safety.
SCE is deploying Community Crew Vehicles (CCVs) and Customer Resource Centers (CRCs) to areas that could be affected by PSPS outages to provide outage information and support customers’ resiliency needs. The most current information about CRC and CCV locations is available at sce.com/psps.
Commitment to work together: We realize that PSPS events significantly impact our customers’ daily lives and create hardships on our customers and communities – a burden that is even more consequential with so many customers working and learning from home. We only use PSPS when absolutely necessary to keep our communities safe from the threat of catastrophic wildfire. If we are forced to shut off power to protect the public, we make every attempt to reduce the number of customers impacted and the length of the outages and turn power on as soon as it is safe to do so.
We value your input and look forward to continued coordination and collaboration.