Here in Southern California
There is a weather condition known as the
Santa Ana Winds
Oh, desert wind
She was born in a desert breeze
And wind her way
Through Canyon Way
From the desert to the silvery sea
~ Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” If Dorothy had landed in Southern California, instead of The Land of Oz, the same could be said. While Kansas has tornados, we have our Santa Ana winds. The season’s first significant Santa Ana winds began on Saturday and continued into the first of the week.
While the wind’s velocity did not exceed 40 mph, the conditions (low humidity and high temperatures), heightened by the ongoing drought, sparked a small brush fire in a La Cañada Flintridge neighborhood Monday night. We were just leaving our son’s house after watching the presidential debates. Less than a mile away from the fire, his front porch was our vantage point. With the cooperation of L.A. County, L.A. City and Glendale fire departments, a potentially disastrous outcome was avoided. The area was not an easy one for the firefighters to attack. Its hilly location and homes in the area are somewhat hidden among crisscrossing freeways, narrow winding roads and dense vegetation. Night time water drops are unusual and made only when conditions warrant them. Monday night they did. Santa Ana winds bring not only a well-grounded fear but also crystal clear blue skies.
Santa Ana winds are often called “desert winds” due to their warm nature. The term is misleading as they originate from a cool air mass during fall and winter over the Great Basin. Air flows from high to low elevations. The air compresses and heats, picking up speed as it travels through the mountain pass. Hot, dry, high winds result. Geographically, we are at the receiving end.
Good news! A refreshing cool down will lower temperatures to normal or even a tad below normal for the upcoming weekend and following week. Partly cloudy skies are forecast as our umbrellas continue to collect dust. Fall weather returns to the Crescenta Valley once again.
Wait just a minute – that is not entirely true! Fall weather encompasses the extreme of conditions: a calm, cool and misty morning can, within the course of a single day, turn into a wild, hot and windy night. So it is “from the desert to the silvery sea” in Southern California.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.