Here's the Science Behind SoCal's Santa Ana Winds

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Santa Ana winds are in the forecast. They are a notorious weather feature in Southern California that can cause difficult travel, damage to property, and create dangerous fire weather conditions.

They develop because of high pressure over the Great Basin pushing winds down and west toward low pressure off the coast of SoCal. The air channels through the mountain passes and canyons and accelerates, similar to how water bursts out of the garden hose when you partially squeeze the nozzle.

These winds can reach speeds from 45 to 100 mph. The air compresses, warms, and dries out as it descends over the mountains. On days with Santa Ana winds, temperatures can soar above average west of the mountains.

Santa Ana winds typically happen from fall to spring and are strongest late in the morning. They can last for hours or days at a time, drying out vegetation and creating fuel for fires. One silver lining is that these strong offshore winds can help clear out the air and improve air quality.

If fire weather is in your forecast, be vigilant and stay informed of weather updates from your First Alert Weather Team.

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