Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fire Season in Southern California

Today was the beginning of our first big Santa Anna of the season. A Santa Anna is much like a Chinook but it is backwards. When a high pressure forms in the desert the winds blow over the mountains where they lose any moisture they might have had exactly like a Chinook does. The winds then drop down off the mountains and as they lose altitude the air compresses and becomes very warm, just like a Chinook does. What is so odd for someone who grew up Alberta is that the winds come from the east and blow towards the ocean. The closer they get to the ocean the hotter they are too and that is backwards from what we're used to. The Santa Annas don't actually start the fires but if a fire does start, the high winds and the very dry air makes it very difficult (some times impossible) to put out. The Santa Anna started blowing in earnest today and already there are several fires around us. The big ones are not near any houses and the ones that are near houses are small and were quickly put out or will be soon. Two of the small fires today were within just a few miles of our house. Just for effect I thought I would include a few pictures from the fires from Oct 2007 and Oct 2003. All of these pictures are within five miles of our house. The fire that you see coming towards a bunch of houses really scared the officials. They didn't say anything until after but they were afraid that fire would burn all the way to the ocean. That would take out thousands of houses. The subdivision you see in the picture mostly burned. Entire streets were burned to the ground and each of those houses is worth at least $750,000. When the wind gets blowing the fire is just so hot that dropping water on it has almost no effect. The only way they can fight it is to cut a fire break and start a back fire. Nothing else works.

Anyway, I really hope we get through October without having to evacuate. It is such a nuisance. We really aren't in any danger. While our house does back up onto a canyon, it is a small canyon and doesn't connect directly with the open brush. Now if you hear about a fire in Penasquitos Canyon, then you can start worrying about us.


Justin, Kira and Evan said...

I worry about you guys all the time.:-) I am glad that you are having warm weather though :-)

Lynn said...


I hope you all have your 72 hour kits packed.
Those pictures SURE tell it like it is.

I hope you NEVER have to use your 72 hr. kits, though.