Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome to the Hotel California

photo submitted to L.A. Times by Irvine Resident

It's a standard Southern California trope, the pendulum between Paradise and Hell. In the past few days, the pendulum has swung terrifyingly far in the direction of Hell.

Five hundred thousand people have been evacuated from San Diego and Orange Counties as of this evening. The fires have been rocketed along by the Santa Ana winds, which have been exceeding 80 m.p.h.

Drought has left our entire region as the most combustible kindling, which has now exploded into flame.
The conflagrations, which one firefighter likened to Armageddon, are being fed by the desert gales known as Santa Ana winds. Almost all of the great Southern California fires of the past have been fed by Santa Anas, which typically blow in early spring and fall.

The result of air pressure buildup in the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, Santa Ana winds sweep from the mountains through the lowlands toward the sea.

This year they are particularly strong. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 100 miles per hour, have fanned the flames, which are crackling through brush that is crumbly dry from the prevailing drought conditions.
SF Chronicle.