SD school officials cancel classes for Friday in power outage aftermath

City News Service

Editor's note: If you have tales about how you handled the power outage, email editor@lajollalight.com. Please include a phone number.

San Diego Unified School officials announced Thursday night about 8:15 p.m. that all schools would be closed on Friday following a massive power outage that originated in Arizona knocked out power to 1.4 million San Diego Gas & Electric customers from Mexico to southern Orange County.

As SDG&E crews worked to phase power back in as quickly as they could, utility executives said and some could be without electricity into Friday.

The drive in and out of La Jolla was nightmarish Thursday with all lanes clogged and drivers trying to remember the rules of the road when signals are out, hesitating as cars on their right and left tried to negotiate intersections.

Police were directing traffic at key intersections like the "Throat" at La Jolla Parkway and Torrey Pines Road, but cars were lined up bumper to bumper down Pearl Street, even as several paramedic units tried to weave their way through drivers who didn't know quite where to go.

School officials said the schedule for high school athletic events scheduled will be determined early in the day Friday. For the latest, parents can go to

www.facebook.com/#!/SanDiegoUnified

, or Twitter page,

www.twitter.com/sdschools

.

According to SDGE, the outage originated in Arizona and caused both of its major electrical connections to the region to trip off. In addition to knocking out power to much of San Diego County, the outage also affected people in Mexico, Baja California, the Coachella Valley in Riverside County and southern Orange County.

At the Light's office on Pearl, once the power went off, reports could be heard over the battery-powered police scanner from lifeguards and patrol cars that power and traffic lights were out. It was soon clear that the outage was widespread and crews quickly kicked into high gear, with the county activating its emergency procedures within a hour.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, issued a statement blaming the outage on the failure of a high- voltage power line between Arizona and Southern California, causing an outage for all SDG&E customers and affecting some other utilities.

The outage was triggered after a 500-kilovolt (kV) high-voltage line from Arizona to California tripped out of service. The transmission outage cut the flow of imported power into the most southern portion of California, resulting in wide-spread outages in the region,'' according to Cal ISO.

The ISO is coordinating with SDG&E as well as neighboring utilities including Southern California (Edison) and utilities in Arizona and Mexico, during restoration of service, which is being managed by SDG&E.''

By dark, Councilwoman Sherri Lightner's office posted a Facebook notice that District 1 residents should conserve water, and Facebook was alive with comments and photos about a night sky filled with stars that is a rarity in San Diego.

About 8:45 Lighter posted: "Boil water notice for parts of D1, including La Jolla. Questions? Call City info line at 619-570-1070."

SDGE had no estimate on when power would be restored, but said some of

its customers likely would not have electricity until tomorrow.

The outage caused a virtual shutdown at Lindbergh Field, where only a handful of Southwest Airlines flights were being permitted to take off, and only because they were carrying only pass-through passengers, according to airport spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield.

Other than those flights, there had been no other outbound planes from the airport since the power went out since passengers could not be properly screened. Most inbound flights were being either canceled or diverted to other airports, she said.

San Diego State University canceled classes Thursday night due to the outage. University officials said it was still unclear if classes would resume on Friday, and updates would be posted on its website.

The power went out around 3:30 p.m. at the courthouse in downtown San Diego, which was closed a short time later.

San Diego police Officer David Stafford said "We don't have any major incidents,'' he said, noting that officers were working at major intersections to provide traffic control.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner's office posted a Facebook notice that District 1 residents should conserve water, and Facebook was alive with comments and photos about a night sky filled with stars that is a rarity in San Diego.

Kathy Day contributed to this report.

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