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The Santa Anas Are Coming. What You Need To Know

A man carries a white plastic hamper to the trunk of his car on a street where a deep orange smoke is everywhere.
Residents evacuate their homes in the Tuscany development as smoke from the approaching Porter Ranch fire fills the air on October 13, 2008 near the Los Angeles area community of Porter Ranch, California.
(David McNew
Getty Images)
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I couldn’t believe it, friends. As I was stacking up fruits and veggies in my cart at Whole Foods, I heard a familiar song…one that signifies a period of time that only happens once a year.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special

“Are you serious?” I said to myself. “Isn’t too early for Christmas music? What about Thanksgiving?” *Checks phone* “Ohh…it is mid-November and it’s holiday time!”

*Play the horror music…camera zoom in on my terrified face*

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It feels like this year flew by mighty fast, but here we are at the end of the year. ‘Tis not only the season for jingle bells, gifts and corny, but cozy Hallmark movies. It’s also the season for another Santa that’s coming to town - just not one we really want around.

That would be Santa Ana. You can always count on these winds this time of year. They carry a certain amount of mystique but also danger. The Santa Anas are expected to kick up starting today and, with that, bring an increase in fire danger.

So, What Are The Santa Anas?

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

It’s different from just regular wind.

Let me break it down to you real quick.

The Santa Ana winds are strong hot, dry winds that start around October and last until about March during the cooler months. They can create a not-so-great wildfire environment in L.A. Fires happen because of the low moisture, which impacts vegetation.

So, peak winds are hitting us smack dab in the face tonight and will last throughout Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. What do the NWS experts there say we should do? 

  • First of all, be careful. Avoid anything that could spark a wildfire. 
  • Secure loose objects. 
  • Plan now for power outages. 
  • For Angelenos near wildland areas, create and familiarize yourself with an evacuation plan in case of a fire.

Why You Should Care

Well, as UCLA climate scientist Alex Hall puts it, Santa Ana-driven wildfires cause a lot of property damage for Angelenos. L.A. is an urban-wildland, meaning that people have built infrastructure on this lush natural habitat, which makes it susceptible to fire. The one thing we have going for us right now is that it did recently rain but please be careful out there.

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For more information about the impending Santa Ana Winds, check out UCLA’s Institute of the Environment & Sustainability interview with Alex Hall. The Weather Channel has a good explainer on Santa Ana winds.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • Karen Bass’s lead in the LA Mayor’s race is widening. There are 655,300 left to be counted. Stay on top of the election results by heading here for key L.A. races, here for the latest on the race between Caruso/Bass and here for Villanueva/Luna
  • So why does it take so long to count votes? Here’s your answer
  • Student workers across all of the University of California campuses have gone on strike in protest of inadequate wages. They say that they have to spend more than half of their income on rent.
  • The California Department of Health confirmed the first death of a child from flu and RSV this year. No other details were provided. 
  • Advocacy groups had hoped voters would elect a record-making number of women and LGBTQ+ candidates to the state legislature, and it looks like that is actually happening. There are 8 openly LGBTQ+ candidates and at least 43 female lawmakers expected to join the legislative ranks in California. 
  • A suspect is in custody after a shooting occurred at the University of Virginia late Sunday night. 3 people were killed and 2 more people were injured in the incident. (NPR)
  • Jay Leno, the television host also known for his eclectic collection of cars, was seriously burned when one of his cars erupted into flames. He sustained injuries to his face but is reportedly doing okay. (NPR)
  • If you were given $100 million how would you spend it? Over the weekend Dolly Parton received a grant of this sum from Jeff Bezos to use for charitable purposes.

Wait! One More Thing...

An Angeleno's Artistic Perspective of the City of Angels

High rises of L.A.'s downtown skyline are seen against a sky at dusk.
Downtown Los Angeles
(Alborz Kamalizad

You know by now that skating, running and hanging out with my family are some of my favorite activities in Los Angeles. But, I also love exploring new art exhibits, especially by local artists. I recently read an interesting story about Michael Alvarez and his new art show at the Matthew Brown Gallery.

Alvarez is a skateboarder and a graffiti artist that grew up in El Sereno. His artwork is distinctively, unapologetically Angeleno. He shows the good, the bad and the ugly of the city in his work; using items we throw away on his canvas — “crushed bottle caps, latex, and other pieces of grime and gunk” — and paint scabs from past work.

In his artwork, you see what L.A. is known for — the freeways, the helicopters, the shoes adorned on trees. You see the pieces often left behind. If you look closely at his art, you might see human figures that become recognizable (like Donald Trump’s face amidst the trash) or people in his life he wants to introduce to us (like his late cousin who was killed through gun violence).

To me, these images remind me of dreams; they’re almost abstract until you look closer and you see that it’s actually crystal clear. The deeper you look into it, the more you see the bigger picture.

Read Matt Stromberg’s article about Michael Alvarez’s artistic appreciation of the beauty in L.A.’s grittiness. And go check out Good Looking Out, a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Alvarez at Matthew Brown Gallery on North La Brea.

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