Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

The Santa Ana Winds of Southern California

If you've lived in Southern California, anywhere from Santa Barbara down to San Diego, you know about the eerie feeling of the Santa Ana Winds. It's those rare occasions when the wind blows from inland, not from seaward. It starts in the Mojave Desert and blows down all of the way to Baja California.

My favorite description of it is from Raymond Chandler, who wrote the Phillip Marlowe mysteries in the 1940s

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas 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."

Of course, Chandler was referring to Los Angeles, and most people in LA aren't bothered by the Santa Ana winds anymore, they just turn on their air conditioners. But if you've felt it, you know it.

My apartment in Santa Barbara didn't have an air conditioner, and it really didn't need it for the three years that I lived there. When the Santa Ana winds blew in, which was only once in the time that I lived there, it really awful.

The Santa Ana Winds

Image at the top of this post: 1961 fire in the Pasadena Hills. From the USC Libraries Digital Collection

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