On Saturday morning Dear and I took a hike up from Sycamore Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains to a Scenic area overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Pt. Mugu. We were struck with how dry the brush was and Dear commented on how easy it would be for a fire to spread through this type of brush. This is a collage I made of some of the dryness we hiked through. We are now having a Santana Wind event in Southern California and there is a large fire burning in the Angeles Forest East of Los Angeles. I’m sure the terrain there looks a lot like this, too.
What are the Santana or Santa Ana Winds?
The Santana Winds or Santa Ana Winds, most common in the late summer and early fall, begin with dry air moving in from the interior of the U.S. towards Southern California. As this air flows down into the Los Angeles-Orange County Basin through the low gaps in the mountains (notably Cajon Pass on the east end of the San Gabriel Mountains and Soledad Pass south of Palmdale), it compresses and warms about five degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet that it descends. Though these winds are much cooler high in the mountains, they can become hot and dry and assume gale force when descending into the Los Angeles-Orange County Basin. They are often the source of air turbulence for aircraft approaching Los Angeles International Airport.
The original spelling of the of name of the winds is unclear, not to mention the origin. Although the winds have been commonly called Santa Ana Winds or Santa Anas, many argue that the original name is Santana Winds or Santanas. Both versions of the name have been used. The name Santana Winds is said to be traced to Spanish California when the winds were called Devil Winds due to their heat. The reference book Los Angeles A to Z (by Leonard & Dale Pitt), credits the Santa Ana Canyon in Orange County as the origin of the name Santa Ana Winds, thereby arguing for the term Santa Anas. This might be supported by early accounts which attributed the Santa Ana riverbed running through the canyon as the source of the winds. Another account placed the origin of Santa Ana Winds with an Associated Press correspondent stationed in Santa Ana who mistakenly began using Santa Ana Winds instead of Santana Winds in a 1901 dispatch.
Special credit for the research assistance of Librarian Nancy Smith of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System Reference Center, Los Angeles Public Library.
I hope this is helpful information when you hear news about Santana winds in Southern California helping to spark fires.
After our hike through all this dryness we were rewarded with these glorious views of the Pacific Ocean…
We were blessed with a few cool days and now with the Santana Winds blowing in we’ll be seeing the temperature rise again this week.
Wherever you are and whatever your weather have a wonderful week.
Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:30-34