The Santa Ana is a dry, sometimes hot and dusty, wind in southwestern California that blows westward through the canyons toward the coastal areas. Santa Anas are a seasonal phenomena, occurring mostly during fall, winter and spring, tending to peak in December. The wind usually has its origin when cold air spills southward into the Great Basin, trapped between the Rockies to the east and the Sierras and Southern California coastal range to the west. This cold air mass is characterized by unusually high pressure near the land surface. Winds are driven into Southern California when the pressure of this interior air mass exceeds the pressure along the California coast. Winds are often strongest in mountain passes which are ducts for the continental air flow. Because the air over the higher elevations of the Great Basin sinks as it flows into coastal California, it is heated adiabatically, and temperatures are often quite warm. This continental air mass is invariably dry, so humidities in Santa Anas are low, often less than 25% relative humidity.
Basically, high pressure sits east and wind funnels west. Just imagine opening a hot open to spock your grinds that you're making and you get blasted in the face by that hot, dry air. In a nutshell, that's a Santa Ana wind. Haha!
Ok, enough of the technical shiz! What does this mean to surfers? Um, how's about perfect weather (sunny, hot) with offshore winds to groom out any swell coming to shore. Here's a popular North County spot with howling offshores and a decent swell...
photo: RAHJAH DAT!!!