SAN DIEGO -- As strong Santa Ana winds raised the threat of wildfires in San Diego Thursday, San Diego Gas & Electric began precautionary power outages that could affect tens of thousands of customers.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning, in effect from 5 a.m. Thursday to 5 p.m. Friday in the mountains and valleys, with the fiercest winds likely late Thursday night through early Friday morning.
As of 10 p.m. Thursday, 8,434 business owners and home owners in the East County communities of Alpine, Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Dulzura, East Poway, Guatay, Jacumba, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona and Santa Ysabel had their power turned off. Find detailed numbers and locations with SDG&E's interactive map.
San Diego Gas & Electric warned tens of thousands customers total could lose service in efforts to limit the risk of accidental fires.
Three school districts announced they would not hold classes Friday:
- Julian Union High School District
- Julian Union School District
- Mountain Empire Unified School District
Areas that could be affected included Barona, Barrett Lake, Black Mountain Ranch, Coronado Hills, East Valley Center, Elfin Forest, Julian, Lake Hodges, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Olivenhain, Palomar Mountain, the western portion of Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.
SDG&E will open two community resource centers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the duration of any potential outages. The centers will be available for residents to get water and snacks, charge their phones and get updated information on the outages.
One center will be located in Descanso, 9545 River Dr., and the other in Julian, 17606 Harrison Park Road.
NWS said sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are expected, but gusts could reach 65 mph near mountain ridge tops.
Daytime humidity could drop as low as 5% Thursday and high temperatures in inland areas will hover in the mid-to high-90s.
Temperatures in the mountains will top out in the high 70s.
The NWS also issued a high wind warning that will be in effect in the county mountains and valleys from 8 p.m. Thursday until 2 p.m. Friday. Officials warned that damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines, while travel will be especially difficult for high-profile vehicles.
The strong winds will continue through Friday afternoon, then begin subsiding, forecasters said.
The predicted Santa Ana winds initially prompted San Diego Gas & Electric to notify roughly 24,000 customers of potential power shutoffs for safety reasons, but on Wednesday night that number increased to nearly 42,000.
On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom held a briefing in Los Angeles on utility companies' Public Safety Shutoff decisions. He also sent a letter to SDG&E, SoCal Edison and PG&E saying "agreed protocols and measures have not been followed universally, nor sufficiently" and "going forward, it is critical that your utilities adhere to the agreements and protocols to provide transparent and consistent notification to state and local government officials, to provide adequately resourced Community Resource Centers, and to plan for and meet the needs of your vulnerable customers."