Santa Ana winds to raise local wildfire hazards again this week


RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Strong Santa Ana winds are expected again in Riverside County beginning late Tuesday, raising the threat of wildfires through Thursday evening.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning that will be in effect from 11 p.m. today to 6 p.m. Thursday for the county mountains and valleys. The Coachella Valley was not included in the warning.
The conditions — featuring winds out of the east and northeast at 25-35 mph, with gusts reaching 55 mph in the valleys and 80 mph near mountain ridge tops — could be the strongest of the season so far, forecasters said.
Humidity levels could drop as low as 5% on Wednesday with poor overnight recovery expected through Friday.
Wind speeds will increase around 9 p.m. today and continue increasing through Wednesday morning, NWS meteorologist Miguel Miller said. The winds will then decrease slightly Wednesday night through Thursday morning and gradually diminish through Thursday afternoon.
Any fires erupting over the period would tend to spread rapidly and be difficult to extinguish, the NWS warned.
A high wind watch will also be in effect this evening through Thursday afternoon in the county mountains, valleys and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning. Officials warned that damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines, while travel will be especially difficult for high-profile vehicles.
High temperatures today could reach 79 degrees in the Coachella Valley, 80 in the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, 73 in Riverside, 67 in Temecula and 71 in Hemet.
Southern California Edison officials said the utility is considering precautionary power shutoffs this week that could potentially affect just over 35,500 customers in Riverside County. The shutoffs would be implemented to de-energize power lines in danger of being damaged or downed by strong winds, potentially sparking wildfires.
As of 2 a.m., 34 customers in the Eden and Eden Hot Springs area were without power.
Areas that could also face precautionary power shutoffs include North Palm Springs, Banning, Beaumont, Corona, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, San Jacinto, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Perris, Riverside, Temecula, the Banning Pass including Cabazon, an area northwest of Cabazon, an area north of Casa Loma, Cherry Valley, County Lake Mobile Community, Gilman Hot Springs, Lakeview Hot Springs, Lakeview, Mas Canyon, Nuevo Uni, Owl, Ramona Expressway and the San Jacinto River, River Park, Riverside County Unico, San Jacinto Valley, Soboba Hot Springs, Soboba Reservation, Whitewater and Whitewater Canyon.