Santa Ana Winds and Their Impacts on Soutehrn California
A SAW index was used to identify events, describe their climatology, their seasonal and interannual variability, as well as meteorological parameters (wind speed and humidity) that contribute to SAW impacts. These factors were then analyzed with wildfire data and records from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, paying particular attention to the 2003 and 2007 seasons.
Although SAWs influence the intensity, footprint and longevity of wildfires, they do not, in most cases, cause the fires. There is no seasonal cycle in SAW wind speeds, although there is a strong seasonal cycle in SAW frequency and humidity, which suggests that other factors, such as precipitation, vegetation and human interaction, potentially play a role in wildfire frequency, timing and intensity as well, as shown by the investigation into areas of greatest wildfire impacts (fatalities, acres burned, structures burned, and economic loss). We study these relationships in order to inform effective mitigation and/or evacuation strategies as well as to contribute to educational efforts on wildfires and Santa Ana winds that can help save resources and lives.