In April and May of 2015, spring Santa Ana winds pushed dry desert heat towards the coast at speeds upwards of 50 mph in San Diego County. In the past, Santa Ana winds, during both spring and fall, have notably increased the chances of wildfires starting between desert and coastal climates in California. This fall, be prepared for higher chances of house fires in San Diego, CA, and know that you can contact ServiceMaster Absolute for emergency fire damage restoration services.

Santa Ana winds are extremely dry, powerful winds that carry hot gusts westward through the mountain passes and down the coastal slopes from the desert regions of California. Typically, the winds blow out of the upper Mojave Desert and the Great Basin, and San Diego County is almost directly centered in the flow of the Santa Ana winds.

The winds are formed in high-pressure systems when the desert temperature cools with the changing seasons. The air is forced to lift as it passes over the mountains, and cools with the sudden ascent. As it cools, the water vapor is unable to stabilize in the air, humidity reaches 100%, and precipitation relieves the passing winds of moisture.

When the dry winds start their descent down the mountainous slopes, they begin to warm with a process called adiabatic heating. The dry adiabatic lapse rate explains how air increases in temperature as it drops into a high pressure system. By the time the air reaches coastal regions, it can be below 10% humidity and heat the coast to above-desert temperatures.

These hot, strong, dry winds severely increase the risk of fires forming in the Californian brush and forests. Some of the largest and most ferocious wildfires in Southern California over the past 15 years were started with the help of Santa Ana winds. In October of 2003, Santa Ana winds blew a wildfire across 721,791 acres in only two weeks, and in October of 2007, Santa Ana winds led to 500,000 acres in burned land.

With the drought-ridden chaparral and increased incidents of wildfires in 2015, this October and November could result in very high risks of home fire damage. Be prepared, and contact ServiceMaster Absolute in the event of a house fire in San Diego, CA.