By Sue KILPATRICK
“Through woods and mountain passes. The winds, like anthems, roll.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Last week, as predicted, Santa Ana winds came blasting through the canyons and into the Crescenta Valley. The remaining autumn leaves were blown from the trees leaving our lawns and streets covered in the past season’s natural décor. Days and nights, with clear skies, followed with high temperatures in the 70-80 degree range and lows in the upper 40s. This weather pattern remained relatively constant throughout the past week. As high pressure over the Great Basin continued to strengthen and weaken over the past days, and so did the winds.
Winds, as we know, can create weather of extreme intensities – from gentle breezes to destructive hurricanes. Interestingly, wind can also be used to predict potential weather depending on its specific direction. More than two thousand years ago for this very reason the weather vane was invented – most likely its idea came from observing the direction of wind blowing sand, snow, leaves etc. The first known one adorned a Greek structure in Athens called the Tower of The Winds. It was formed of bronze to resemble Triton – God of the Sea. An outstretched hand holding a rod rotated as the wind changed direction. The Greeks believed the wind to be of divine origin. Later, in the ninth century, the Pope in Rome decreed that every church in Europe should show a cock/rooster on its dome or steeple, as a reminder of Jesus’ prophecy that the cock would not crow until his disciple Peter had denounced Him three times. Because of this Bible story, weather vanes with rooster shapes have topped church steeples for centuries in Europe and in America. What would the Church have thought about my sailboat weather vane that sets atop my ranch-style house in La Crescenta?
As I finish my writing for this week, I pause and take a look out at the sailboat on my roof. The winds are blowing yet again. The arrow-part of the weather vane is pointing toward the northeast. This observation tells me several things. First, the wind is blowing from this direction and not toward it. This is a Santa Ana wind – also referred to as a northeasterly. With this type of wind we can expect warmer and drier conditions. With back-up from the National Weather Service, my roof-top adornment is proving to be quite accurate. By the weekend the winds will diminish and temperatures will drop to around 70 during the day and in the upper 40s at night! Once again, by the first of the week the winds will return. So, with this in mind and no rain in the immediate forecast, keep that umbrella closed up tight!
Sue Kilpatrick is a longtime CV resident and amateur weather watcher. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.