The strong santa ana winds that knocked down power lines and trees all over California on Thursday are beginning to move across the country. In Santa Barbara County, the winds peaked on Thursday, but windy weather is expected to continue Friday and into Saturday.
Santa Barbara County Fire officials advise residents to watch for downed power lines and trees, and motorists are urged to use caution along Highways 101, 154, 192 and 246.
A wind advisory remained in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday for Santa Barbara County, with gusts up to 55 mph possible at higher elevations. A hazardous weather outlook is in effect through the weekend for all of southwestern California.
County Fire responded to many wind-related emergency calls this week, including fires, downed power lines, fallen trees and blocked roadways.
There is a higher fire danger with the winds and low humidity, shown by the Wednesday night fire at a travel trailer on East Mountain Drive north of Westmont College that prompted the campus to evacuate students from their residence halls. The fire was contained to the travel trailer.
Both County Fire and Southern California Edison warn the public to treat all downed power lines as energized and call 9-1-1. All County Fire engines have equipment to detect live power lines and chain saws for removing debris.
More than 226,000 SCE customers were without power as Thursday afternoon, and crews were working to restore service all day to the hardest-hit areas, including San Gabriel, San Bernardino, Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, El Monte, La Cañada Flintridge, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, San Marino, Temple City, El Segundo, Long Beach, Torrance, Upland, Crestline, Barstow and Sun City. By 8 a.m. Friday, SCE said 140,197 customers were without service.
With more high winds in the forecast, SCE suggests:
» If you know someone who is dependent on electrically operated medical equipment, make backup power arrangements in case a power outage affects that equipment.
» Watch for traffic signals that may be out. Approach those intersections as four-way stops.
» Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and flashlights. Check the batteries to ensure they are fresh. Use flashlights for lighting during a power outage; do not use candles because they pose a significant fire hazard.
» Do not use equipment indoors that is designed for outdoor cooking. Such equipment can emit carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.
» Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. An unopened refrigerator can keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours. A half-full freezer will stay cold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
» Check on your neighbors to make sure everyone is safe.
» If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into the generator, using a heavy-duty extension cord. Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed,” which is dangerous to repair crews.
» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Connect with the OES on Facebook.