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Santa Ana Winds of Southern California: Their Climatology, extremes and behavior spanning six and half decades

Abstract

Santa Ana Winds (SAWs) are an integral feature of the regional climate of Southern California/Northern Baja California region, but their climate-scale behavior is poorly understood. In the present work, we identify SAWs in mesoscale dynamical downscaling of a global reanalysis from 1948 to 2012. Model winds are validated with anemometer observations. SAWs exhibit an organized pattern with strongest easterly winds on westward facing downwind slopes and muted magnitudes at sea and over desert lowlands. We construct hourly local and regional SAW indices and analyze elements of their behavior on daily, annual, and multidecadal timescales. SAWs occurrences peak in winter, but some of the strongest winds have occurred in fall. Finally, we observe that SAW intensity is influenced by prominent large-scale low-frequency modes of climate variability rooted in the tropical and north Pacific ocean-atmosphere system.

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