SCE Preparations Mitigate Storm-Related Outages

Crew pre-deployments, grid hardening and multi-agency cooperation help keep power flowing to most customers, though limited outages remain.

The winter storms that blanketed Southern California’s mountains and suburban foothills with snow and brought 90-mph wind gusts and heavy rain throughout Southern California Edison’s service area were every bit as intense as meteorologists predicted. However, power outages impacting SCE customers were relatively minimal, considering the widespread severity of the storm.

“Our meteorologists saw this series of storms coming last week, so throughout the company, we began making preparations,” said Thomas Jacobus, SCE principal manager of Business Resiliency. “Our distribution operations centers, district substations, customer contact center and many others were ready. Distribution sent additional crews to the Lake Arrowhead Service Center because we expected snow would close the roads for some time.”

SCE also coordinated in advance with Santa Barbara, Kern and Los Angeles counties, CalTrans, the California Highway Patrol and other local officials and regional utilities. Outages impacting SCE’s 5 million customers peaked at about 30,000 during the worst of the storm.

SCE's Lake Arrowhead Service Center over the weekend.
SCE's Lake Arrowhead Service Center over the weekend. PHOTO CREDIT: Gonzolo Heredia

“If this same storm had happened 10 years ago, there could have been 100,000 or 200,000 customers out,” Jacobus said. SCE’s ongoing grid hardening work appeared to provide benefits.

About 2,000 customers were experiencing outages Monday afternoon. Storm-related outages in communities such as Lake Arrowhead and Frazier Park were primarily the result of deep snow that restricts the ability of crews to access the area for repairs.

“We understand outages during severe weather can be a hardship. We have crews positioned to respond to outages and restore power as quickly as safety allows,” said Matt Deatherage, SCE incident commander for the winter storm response.

Saturday evening, 30
critical care customers — those who require the regular use of electronically powered medical equipment — lost power. SCE representatives contacted each of them individually to ensure they had adequate backup power.

In Lake Arrowhead, Jacobus said that despite five feet of snow and heavy winds, only one power pole fell, while one other circuit was disrupted when a tree fell into
a power pole. SCE crews in the region have been using snowshoes, ATVs equipped with snow tracks and snowcats to reach repair sites. The company has approximately 1,000 field crew members actively working to restore power to those impacted by the storms.

Unplowed roads in mountain communities have challenged SCE crews attempting to make repairs to equipment impacted by the storms.
Unplowed roads in mountain communities have challenged SCE crews attempting to make repairs to equipment impacted by the storms. PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Ayala

A new storm is moving into SCE’s service area through Wednesday, and while not as severe as its predecessors, it could bring four to 12 inches of fresh snow to local mountains and two to four feet in the Sierras, as well as wind gusts as high as 60 mph.

SCE encourages customers to prepare for potential outages by taking the following measures:

  • Freeze water and transfer it to your refrigerator if the power goes out to keep perishables cold.
  • Install surge protectors to help safeguard valuable electronic equipment, such as computers and home entertainment systems.
  • If you have an automatic garage door or gate, learn to open it manually (without power).
  • Make a safety preparedness plan for your family that includes a list and location of emergency items such as water bottles, flashlights, first-aid kits, extra blankets, etc.
  • Be prepared to meet the unique needs of infants and elderly or disabled family members. Also, plan how you will care for any pets.
Customers may report outages at 1-800-611-1911 or online at