Santa Ana winds bring wildfire danger to Southern California


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Red flag warnings of high fire danger went into effect across a wide swath of Southern California on Wednesday as gusty, dry Santa Ana winds developed.

Southern California Edison shut off power to more than 4,700 customers and was considering cutting another 178,000 to prevent fires from being started by downed lines or wind-blown vegetation and debris hitting electrical equipment.

San Diego Gas & Electric notified 31,000 customers they could be shut off.

The Santa Anas were expected to be moderate to locally strong and persist into Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.

The offshore flow brings extremely low relative humidity, making vegetation already dried out by the summer months even more ready to burn. The gusts can rapidly spread any fires that do start.

The San Francisco Bay Area also had offshore flow early Wednesday, with a gust up to 65 mph (104.6 kph) at Mount Diablo, but relative humidity levels remained high enough that there were no critical fire weather concerns.

Southern California will have a mild Christmas Day before a chance of rain reaches a limited area late Friday and Saturday. Widespread rain is expected late Sunday and Monday.

Two Pacific storms are expected to bring rain and mountain snow to Northern California during the holiday weekend.

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