Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Santa Ana Winds Whip up Fires in LA

I nearly froze my ass off in bed the night before last. Two blankets were not enough. Getting up in the morning was like getting out of a sleeping bag on a cold morning of camping. I laid in bed an extra hour knowing it was going to be cold but, in the end I also knew the front deck at the place I'm staying would be sunny. Finally, I jumped up, threw on pants, a fleece jacket AND socks as fast as I could. Yes socks! No time to have breakfast, straight to the sunshine.

On the deck it was windy, warmer in the sun but very windy. Later that day when I went for a walk to the pier you could see the dust and sand coming off the beach into downtown Seal Beach. Putting two and two together, this is why the warm deck I'd been sitting on was also covered in fine dirt.
Today I wake up, it's not as cold or as windy however, the news channels are reporting fires burning north of here and blaming the Santa Ana Winds. Traveling around the greater Los Angeles area for the past few months I can tell you everywhere you go it is very DRY. I had a Saipan weather report from Denise the other day telling me how humid and warm it was there. Not so here. It is very easy to see how a small fire in a trash can or from a cigarette butt, combined with these winds, could easily whip up large fires in highly dense residential areas almost instantly.
I've learned from the news today that the Sana Ana winds actually come down from the mountains east of this vast human settlement between there and the coast. I guess this explains why it's not as cold or windy at the pier today. There were definitely more folks out enjoying the winds yesterday even though they came with a bone chilling, off shore, cold.
The seagulls were the ones who seemed to enjoy the wind the most. Lifting off, spreading wings and gliding above potential food sources with the greatest of ease. I don't know if they're cold but the people fishing were bundled up and feeling it like I was.
When it comes to having to add socks to my morning routine I draw the line. If I have to jump into a body of water to get out of a fire I'd prefer it to be warm! It's time to get back to Saipan. Only two more weeks to go!

Update October 14th.
Fires continue to burn with additional ones now south of LA near the area I took my road trip a few months ago. An updated BBC story on the fires can be found here.


mark r said...

AWESOME shot of the seagull, Mike!

scubatripp said...

Thanks Mark, I was happy with that one too! Not quite the same or as fun as trying to get one of a marine creatures but similar in many respects although I was a lot colder.

I was the only one in shorts, a T-shirt and no socks!

KAP said...

Your on-site report is better than what I've gotten from the media.

NASA's Earth Observatory emailed me a link to a nice overhead of the smoke.

That is a good photo. Were you feeding that dirty bird?

scubatripp said...

No feeding the bird! They had no issues gliding overhead in the wind fairly close. If there was a chance to get someones bait they were not shy.

The winds were calm today but I guess it's actually at night that the worst winds occur.