More Than 670,000 Californians Face a Christmas Eve in the Dark

Southern California utilities could cut power to nearly 225,000 homes and businesses on Christmas Eve as a possible wind storm raises wildfire risks from the Central Valley to the Mexican border.

The blackouts, which have nearly doubled in scope since Monday, could affect more than 670,000 people based on the size of the average household. California utilities have increasingly resorted to switching off power lines in advance of high winds rather than risk live wires falling into dry brush and sparking fires.

Sempra Energy’s utility serving San Diego County warned that it may need to switch off electricity to 31,444 homes and businesses starting Wednesday, with the blackouts perhaps lasting into Christmas morning.Edison International’s Southern California utility may cut power to 193,466 homes and businesses across seven counties, from the hills north of Los Angeles east to the Mojave Desert.

While December is typically one of California’s wettest months, Los Angeles has received no rain this month, keeping fire danger high.

At the same time, Southern California is suffering through its worst wave yet of coronavirus infections, with officials begging residents to stay home as much as possible. Many of those homes may now lose power leading into the holiday, if the weather forecast holds.

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