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Santa Ana winds satellite imagery

Dry, offshore wind that sweeps through Southern California.

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Not very fun at all.

  • Dec 18, 2008
  • by
Anyone who lives in Southern California between Santa Barbara and San Diego knows just how destructive Santa Ana winds can be.

Sure, they blow in and clear out the air, increasing visibility to stunning levels (sometimes it's possible to see downtown LA from almost 70 miles away!). But if you have severe air allergies, it's miserable. I myself don't suffer from allergies on a regular basis, but every time the Santa Ana's pick up, I can barely open my eyes and I have to carry around tissues with me all day.

Santa Ana winds are also often responsible for knocking down powerlines and starting fires that burn out of control, pushed by the extreme, dry winds. Back in autumn 2003, the incredibly destructive Grand Prix fire swept through my neighborhood, fueled by strong Santa Ana's and brush that had been completely dried out by the winds and drought. Dozens of homes burned (ours was spared) and our neighborhood is still recovering.

That said, sometimes it's fun to sit through a wind storm and hear your house groan and moan. One time, I looked in the toilet bowl and saw the water sloshing around. At first I didn't know why, but then I realized the house was moving slightly, not enough for me to feel, but enough to cause water to move! I thought that was pretty neat. But several hours later, it was 3 in the morning and I could not fall asleep because of the howling winds.

All in all, it's just another part of living in sunny SoCal (in addition to earthquakes, drought, heat, and whatever nature can throw at us). It's just a small price to pay for living here, I suppose!

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January 29, 2009
Not quite the Santa Ana's, but Maryland gets some serious wind storms in the winter too. Our house is surrounded by 100 yr old trees that sway beyond what I ever thought was possible before living here. Its amazing we haven't lost a single tree in 6 yrs of being in this house!
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Ali ()
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Santa Ana winds, commonly referred to as "Santa Ana's," are offshore and dry winds that sweep through Southern California usually during autumn and winter.

Santa Ana's form when high pressure builds in the Great Basin region of the United States. Eventually, after a critical mass is reached, the air mass spills out of the region and flows gravitationally towards Southern California. The winds are often responsible for clearing out smog, haze, and particulate matter pollution in the Los Angeles region, thus creating high visibility. However, the winds are also miserable for those with sensitive air allergies, as they kick up pollen, dust, and other allergens and transport them for miles in any direction. In addition, many of Southern California's worst fires have been caused by the winds.

There is no generally agreed-upon explanation for how Santa Ana winds were named. One theory is that they were named after Santa Ana, one of Orange County's earliest settlements. Another is that they were named after the Santa Ana Mountains, Santa Ana River, or Santa Ana Canyon. A final theory states that the winds were originally named to mean "satanic" in Spanish (vientos de Satán or vientos Satanás).  
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