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Facts About Santa Anas

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- Yes there is a marching band called The Santa Ana Winds

- Yes, Raymond Chandler wrote this about the winds in "Red Wind": "those hot dry [winds] that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

- Yes Joan Didion wrote this about the conditions:

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"There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night. I have neither heard nor read that a Santa Ana is due, but I know it, and almost everyone I have seen today knows it too. We know it because we feel it. The baby frets. The maid sulks. I rekindle a waning argument with the telephone company, then cut my losses and lie down, given over to whatever it is in the air. To live with the Santa Ana is to accept, consciously or unconsciously, a deeply mechanistic view of human behavior."

- No, the Santa Anas don't start off as warm winds, but cold ones, that get pushed through the desert:

"the Santa Anas develop when the desert is cold, and are thus most common during the cool season stretching from October through March. High pressure builds over the Great Basin (e.g., Nevada) and the cold air there begins to sink. However, this air is forced downslope which compresses and warms it at a rate of about 10C per kilometer (29F per mile) of descent. As its temperature rises, the relative humidity drops; the air starts out dry and winds up at sea level much drier still. The air picks up speed as it is channeled through passes and canyons."

photo by jimw via flickr