Fire Weather

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Weather and Public Safety Power Shutoffs

If conditions indicate fire danger is elevated — for example, if there are strong winds, low humidity, dry vegetation, there is a fire threat to electric structure or a public safety risk — we may temporarily shut off power to some customers in areas with a high risk of wildfires. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff and is meant to keep communities safe.

Turning off our customers’ power is not something we take lightly, but Public Safety Power Shutoffs are one of the ways we can better ensure the safety of the public, our customers and our employees.

Stay informed about outages and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events

Sign up or update your contact information in My Account to receive notifications about outages near you including Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. Manage Notifications >

Don’t have an SCE account? You can still get alerts about PSPS-only events for specific ZIP code(s).

Our decision to shut off power is dynamic and made by considering many factors. Some factors we consider in deciding when to shut off power for public safety reasons are:

  • Red Flag – The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings for high fire risk areas in our territory.
  • Meteorologists – Ongoing assessments from our in-house meteorologists using high-resolution weather models, data from SCE weather stations and publicly available weather stations.
  • Fire Potential Index – The SCE Fire Potential Index (FPI), a tool that utilizes weather data, fuel conditions, and vegetation moisture content to rate the daily fire potential across our region.
  • Winds – Wind speeds, particularly when they exceed or are expected to exceed National Weather Service Wind Advisory levels (defined as 31 mph sustained wind speed and 46 mph gust wind speed) or exceed the top 1% of historical wind speeds in the area.
    • Wind speeds are particularly important when we consider them in combination with other local conditions, such as dry vegetation, that could present a true hazard for the community.
    • Wind speed thresholds may also be adjusted based on other factors or circuit design.
  • Public Authorities – Specific concerns received from state and local fire authorities, emergency management personnel and/or law enforcement regarding public safety issues.
  • Impacts – The expected impact of turning off power to essential services such as public safety agencies, water pumps and/or traffic controls.
  • Operational Situation – Other operational considerations such as the state of the potentially impacted circuits, flying debris and/or downed wires.

When possible and safe during extreme fire weather conditions, we can deploy on-the-ground observers in high fire risk areas to monitor live conditions in real time.

NOTE: We are actively pursuing system hardening measures and other mitigation efforts to reduce the impact of PSPS on our customers. We will continue to evolve our de-energization criteria and will post updates as they become available.

Here are some of the tools we use in deciding when to turn off power:

Wildfire Threat Index

The Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index is a predictive model created in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the University of California, Los Angeles. This index helps fire agencies and the public prepare for a wildfire threat during a high wind event. Users can see this information about weather conditions in real-time to help understand the threat of wind-driven wildfires.

 

 

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Winds are either not expected, will not contribute to significant fire activity.

 

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MARGINAL
 

 

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Upon ignition, fires may grow rapidly.

 

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MODERATE
 

 

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Upon ignition, fires will grow rapidly and will be difficult to control.

 

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HIGH
 

 

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Upon ignition, fires will grow very rapidly, will burn intensely, and will be very difficult to control.

 

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EXTREME
 

 

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Upon ignition, fires will have extreme growth, will burn very intensely, and will be uncontrollable.

 

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Picture of a Weather Camera

Fire Alert Cameras

More than 160 high-tech fire alert cameras have been installed to help monitor areas with a high risk for wildfires. The cameras stream live images on the ALERT Wildfire network.

 


Picture of SCE's Weather Stations

Weather Stations

We have installed over 1000 weather stations in high fire risk areas in our service territory. These weather stations are installed on our equipment such as poles. They provide real-time weather data, including wind speed and wind gust, temperature, humidity and solar data every 10 minutes.

 


Red Flag Warnings

Red Flag Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when there is possible critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to increased wildfire activity. Elevated weather that can lead to a warning include: low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels and the possibility of dry lightning strikes.

 


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff?

The threat of wildfires in California is real and growing. One of the ways SCE is reducing wildfire risks is Public Safety Power Shutoffs. During these events, we may need to proactively shut off power temporarily as a result of elevated weather conditions — such as strong winds, high temperatures and dry vegetation — that can cause a power line to fall and spark, possibly creating a wildfire. PSPS events are temporary and are meant to keep you and your community safe.

While it is difficult to predict how often elevated weather conditions may occur, the threat of wildfires in California is real and growing. Californians need to be prepared with a plan and have an emergency kit. SCE customers can update their contact information and find helpful safety tips at sce.com/BePrepared.

2. Under what conditions will SCE call a PSPS?

Elevated weather conditions can cause vegetation or other items to be blown into power lines possibly creating a wildfire. Under these situations, we may temporarily shut off power to customers to keep you and your community safe. SCE considers a number of factors and conditions before declaring a PSPS. These include, but are not limited to:

  • High winds (including Red Flag Warnings declared by the National Weather Service)
  • Low humidity
  • Dry vegetation that could serve as fuel
  • On-the-ground observations
  • Fire threat to electric infrastructure
  • Public safety risk

3. Who makes the decision to do a PSPS?

Each utility determines when a PSPS is called and how it will be implemented. California’s three largest investor owned utilities, at the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission, are coordinating to prepare all Californians for the threat of wildfires and power outages during times of extreme weather. Find more information about this statewide effort at: prepareforpowerdown.com.

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4. Who will be impacted by PSPS?

Customers who live in high fire risk areas as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission are more likely to experience a PSPS. However, customers who do not live in these high fire risk areas may also be impacted because of how the electrical grid is interconnected. SCE has a network of circuits providing power to 15 million people within a 50,000-square-mile area of central, coastal and Southern California. Anyone in California could be impacted by emergency events such as PSPS and need to be prepared with a plan.

SCE customers should update their contact information and sign up for PSPS alerts at: sce.com/OutageAlerts.

5. What about customers who rely on medical equipment for their health and safety?

We engage and identify critical care customers on an ongoing basis well before a PSPS. Power outages also happen in our service area unrelated to a PSPS, so customers need to be prepared to ensure medical equipment will still run during an outage. We encourage our critical care customers to have a backup plan now. Customers with special medical equipment should ensure that we have their most up-to-date contact information so we can notify them of a power shutoff. For more information: sce.com/MedicalBaseline.

Note: Critical care customers are a subset of customers called “medical baseline” customers. Medical baseline customers may have medical equipment, but not all of that equipment is critical, life-saving equipment.

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6. How we communicate before, during and after a PSPS.

We intend to notify affected customers approximately two days in advance of a potential power shutoff. This notification will be via email, text or phone call. We may also send another notice to customers about one day before a potential power shutoff. We will keep customers updated regularly on our website and social media channels. We will also notify affected customers when power has been restored. SCE customers can sign up for PSPS alerts at: sce.com/OutageAlerts.

7. Does SCE coordinate with local governments and first responders before and during a PSPS event?

In advance of PSPS events, SCE will meet with local governments, emergency management community and first responders to inform them about the PSPS protocol, including the location of circuits in their jurisdictions which may be shut off during a PSPS.

8. How long will it take for my power to be restored after a PSPS event?

A PSPS event will last as long as the dangerous fire weather conditions exist. If circuits are shut off, those circuits and lines will be inspected to ensure there are no problems that might create a danger before power can be safely restored. SCE crews will need to visually inspect the power lines during daylight hours so operations may be limited during overnight hours.

Customers should be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time during a PSPS. Customers should prepare emergency plans now. Click here for more details.

9. Will there be rotating outages during a PSPS?

System reliability may be impacted during a rare, wider scale PSPS event and could result in rotating outages. Customers could be without power for an extended period of time and should take steps now to be prepared. Find preparedness tips at: sce.com/BePrepared or readyforwildfire.org.

10. What other steps is SCE taking to reduce wildfire risk?

Turning off power during elevated weather events is just one component of SCE’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan. We continue to reduce the risk of electrical equipment igniting wildfires, going beyond industry practices to address the new conditions we are facing. We’ve implemented a variety of technologies for advanced fire safety, including installation of new high-definition cameras, weather stations and miles of insulated power lines. We are also expanding operational practices such as enhanced overhead inspections, vegetation management and emergency response protocols.

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