More than one million California residents had their power cut Monday to prevent aging or malfunctioning power lines from sparking new wildfires during high winds.
For the fifth time in 2020, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off electricity during dry and gusty weather conditions. On Sunday, 225,000 accounts were shut off, followed by 136,000 on Monday.
"PG&E is calling a [public safety power shutoff] due to a significant, offshore wind event starting Sunday that is forecast to have the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far, that together create high risk of catastrophic wildfires," said the company.
The National Weather Service had predicted winds over 30 mph in lower elevations and more than 70 mph in mountainous regions. The highest recorded winds over the weekend were 94 mph in Tahoe and 89 mph at Mt. Saint Helena.
A small wildfire was reported Monday in the Orange County city of Irvine. The winds fanned the flames, prompting the evacuation of 60,000 residents.
California has had millions of acres burn this year in wildfires across the state.
🔦 The gusty weather phenomena, often called "Santa Ana" winds, is typical in cooler months and is caused by dry air from the desert that is compressed as it is pushed over the mountains toward the ocean, causing its temperature and speed to increase.