But a new study is questioning that projection, finding that Santa Ana's hot wind episodes aren't abating. Like other downslope or catabatic winds, the Santa Anas form due to differences in temperature and topography. This high-pressure pattern that promotes clear skies and a warm, dry winter weather also provides the perfect setting for Santa Ana winds. There have been at least 20 Santa Anas since September, according to Alex Tardy, a meteorologist with the San Diego National Weather Service.
Winds also rise over and through crenellated ridges and descend downhill, accelerating with gravity on the leeward sides of the mountains, which is the side facing the ocean and densely populated coast of Southern California. Santa Ana winds can reach 70 mph in some parts of Southern California, so they can cause a lot of problems. Winds from Santa Ana fueled the Thomas Fire, a massive wildfire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties that began in December. Combined with the complex topography of Southern California that is marked by mountain passes and canyons, the Santa Ana winds create challenges in modeling wind-fire relationships in the region.
Unfortunately, due to climate change, California has seen increased winds leading to increased risks of wildfires and other damage, and has even disrupted online education this semester. Overall, they found that warming would weaken high-pressure systems over the Great Basin and decrease the frequency of Santa Ana events. Known as Santa Ana winds or Diablo winds in northern California, they originate as cold air masses in the Great Basin region of the western United States. Kim, a research biological scientist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and his colleagues evaluated the spatial heterogeneity of winds during the days of wind events in Santa Ana and outside Santa Ana.
For the past two decades, power line failures have been the dominant cause of wind fires in Santa Ana, Southern California. With the mix of dry air and Santa Ana winds growing to 35-45 mph only on the second day of the fire, this caused containment to drop to 10%. According to AccuWeather, Santa Ana winds are “dangerous, high-speed winds that periodically rise and blow from the mountains to the coast in Southern California. According to John Abatzoglou, climate scientist and fire expert at the University of California, Merced, the most important question for the California fire season is how often will Santa Ana wind events coincide with dry fuel.
We found that non-Santa Ana fires will play a larger role in overall fire risk in Southern California. A study released last year suggests that warming may dampen Santa Ana wind activity, but the biggest effects will occur earlier in the season. The goal of the new study was to unravel potential drivers of the burned area specifically for Southern California wildfires that burn under Santa Ana windy conditions.