Dennis’ Tidbits


October 5, 2018

Devil Wind Santanas due to return, along with fire danger

Dennis 5Down in the Eastern Pacific Tropics, hurricane Sergio has now reached Category 4 status making him the eighth system to reach that Category this season. He’s made a right turn and he’s now moving to the NW. His maximum sustained winds are 135 mph with a central pressure of 948 millibars.

Anytime now, we’ll see the return of “Vientos Diablos,” Spanish for the Devil Winds. We gabachos know them better as Santanas. They occur every year, most common in the fall, but they’ve happened in every month but June and July. The earliest Santanas hit on September 19, 1939, when Laguna registered its hottest day ever with 109 and Santa Ana 119, still a record. 

The latest Santana was on December 25, 2000. It’s not if, it’s when. The average date of the first Santana event is October 10th. They often bring the hottest temps of the year, sometimes over 100 degrees here at the beach, with humidity readings down into single digits here. When we have a classic Santana event, temps are the warmest along the coast, as air from the northeast heats by compression so Laguna, more often than not, is warmer than Palm Springs. 

One thing is for certain. Someone’s house will burn somewhere. I lost mine on October 27, 1993, and so did 434 other homeowners. There’s a very deep low-pressure trough off our coast, and that will be our first rainmaker of the season. Phoenix, AZ just had their wettest October day on record when nearly 2.5 inches fell, and Sedona had almost a whole year’s worth of rain over the weekend, all part of the remains of former Category 4 Hurricane Rosa. 

Her remains have moved to the north and northeast and have joined forces with a strong low pressure and associated cold front. It’s been a very soggy year in most places around the country, but we can’t buy a drop here in California. This year is the worst fire year on record and the Santanas haven’t even arrived yet. 

Did you know that 90 percent of all wildfires are started by humans, and they hardly ever get caught. The other 10 percent is lightning or downed power lines that set off a deadly spark. We can only hope that a couple of good soakers blow through here before those Devil Winds arrive.