Hot Santa Ana winds are expected to return to parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties late Wednesday and blow through the Thanksgiving holiday, bringing dry conditions and powerful gusts that could increase the threat of wildfires as well as spur power outages, weather officials warned Wednesday.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning — meaning critical fire weather conditions — beginning early Thursday and lasting through 11 a.m. Friday for the mountains and valleys of western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County as well as for the Malibu coastal strip and Ventura coastal plains.
"The combination of these gusty winds and very low humidity will very likely lead to at least six to 12 hours of widespread critical fire weather conditions," the National Weather Service warned.
Because of the extreme winds, Southern California Edison has warned there are about 5,000 customers — in a northwest portion of Los Angeles County, southern Ventura County and an area along the 215 corridor in Riverside County — that could lose power Thursday as a precaution, spokesperson David Song said Wednesday.
He said the utility is hopeful it won't have to proactively cut anyone's power and said the "period of concern" for high winds is expected to subside by 6 p.m.
"We’re very mindful of the fact that it’s Thanksgiving, yet we have to balance that with public safety," Song said. "We won’t know until the wind event comes in and based on our real-time weather information and our field patrols.”
Gusty winds are expected to begin Wednesday evening, with a high wind warning in effect from 9 p.m. through 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys in L.A. County, and the central and southeastern Ventura County valleys. High winds are also expected in the mountains of Los Angeles County and western Santa Monica.
“The winds are going to be pretty strong, peaking tomorrow and then dropping off on Friday," said meteorologist Mike Wofford with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. He said winds are expected to be 30 to 50 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph.
The weather service warned of "damaging winds" that could blow over trees and power lines and said power outages are expected.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.