“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
— Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"
From the LA Times:
Southern California will feel more like summer than autumn Monday, thanks to triple-digit temperatures and powerful Santa Ana winds for most of the day.
The mercury could reach 103 degrees in Burbank, 101 in Long Beach, 104 in Riverside and 105 in Azusa, Ojai and Van Nuys, forecasters say.
“This time of year you get those wild swings,” said meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie of the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
By 11:08 a.m. in Oxnard, the old daily high temperature record of 98 degrees, which was set in 1978, was broken. Temperatures had reached 103 degrees Monday and were still climbing.
Camarillo reached 102 by noon, slashing the record high of 101 set in 1963, she said.
By noon, two other record highs were teetering on the edge of being broken or tied.
Santa Maria reached 99 degrees by noon, a degree away from tying the record of 100 that was set in 1921. In San Luis Obispo, temperatures reached 100 degrees, four degrees shy of the 2010 record high.
Santa Ana winds are largely responsible for oven-like conditions and will raise temperatures some 20 degrees higher than average.
I've mentioned before that one of the strangest things about Southern California is the microclimates. A ten mile change in position can often produce a thirty degree drop in temperature when you head toward the beach. You can drive through an snow storm in the mountains then change into a T shirt when you hit the valley.
Santa Ana's are, in a sense, the opposite. It doesn't matter where you are -- you can go as far as Santa Monica and only buy yourself four or five degrees -- but it makes a huge difference when. It's not just that the hottest days of the year can come in the fall; it's that they often come after you're sure that summer is over. A few days ago we were in the low 70s. In a few days we'll be back again. It adds a surreal quality to the experience.