According to Wikipedia, Santa Ana winds "is a Southern California reference to Föhn winds, a meteorological phenomenon occurring as a layer of wind is forced over a mountain range -- drying the air -- which then passes over the crest and begins to move downslope -- heating -- and becoming a strong, gusty, warm and dry wind which can raise temperatures as much as 30°C (54°F) in a few hours. The risk of fire danger increases by the winds' warm and dry conditions. As the Santa Ana winds are channeled through the mountain passes they can approach hurricane force. The combination of wind, heat, and dryness turns the chaparral into explosive fuel for the infamous wildfires the region is known for." I can add that the winds usually only last a day, though this Santa Ana condition was predicted to be two days. The winds leave your lips chapped, skin dry and flaky and hair wirey.
It's only been four years ago this month since Southern California wild fires killed 22 and destroyed 3,640 homes. I don't ever remember numbers like that in the three decades that I lived in Southern California. The frequency, size and amount of structural damage in the last fifteen years of fires suggest obvious overgrowth of housing developments into traditional burn zones.
As I get ready to post this, it is near sunrise Tuesday in Southern California. It's predicted that the winds will be even worse this morning up until early afternoon with gusts over 60 mph and temperatures over 90 degrees. There's really only enough firefighters to evacuate neighborhoods and fighting these fires is nearly fruitless. Scary stuff. I'll take typhoons over going back to that.