I don’t know how closely any of you dudes follow the news, especially weather-related news, but as of right now the Southwest US is being battered by what are known as the Santa Ana winds.
The Santa Ana winds, which arise in Southwest California in late fall or early winter, are the strongest they’ve been in nearly a decade according to CNN. Gusting at 60 MPH in some places, they’ve already knocked out the power to a large portion of people living in Southern California.
According to the Wiki article, the Santa Ana winds arise when the surface air in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert becomes cool and begins to fall to lower elevations. Sinking into the valleys and canyons of the lower desert, the air is often pushed through the land’s channels at near hurricane forces. In addition, its sinking in elevation causes it to heats up again (a process called adiabatic heating; as the air sinks the pressure around it increases, thus causing the air to heat as it is compressed). This, when combined with the fact that the air has already been dried by orographic lift before reaching the Great Basin, makes for extremely dry winds, often with relative humidity levels below 10%, gusting at extremely high forces. These winds push across Southern California and, as evident by the recent news, cause havoc.
Woohoo, crazy weather!