Those hot dry winds 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. ~ Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"
The above quote rings absolutely true. I swear, the Santa Anas have an effect on people similar to a full moon. People forget how to drive, fights break out for no reason at all, and everything feels like it's been electrified. Add to that the heat, and everyone's brains seem to get a little fried after having finally gotten used to colder weather. It was in the upper 80s yesterday! In January!
These crazy winds don't actually originate in Santa Ana. The original term used by many were Satánas winds or devil winds, "Satánas" being a Spanish variant of Satan. Being in the middle of them right now, I'd say those are accurate titles.
The winds these past few days have been clocked at almost 70 mph, which makes them responsible for a lot of destruction. Yesterday we saw an overturned big rig laying by the side of the road. The Santa Anas also rip off billboard signs, knock over trees, and fuel forest fires (let's hope we don't have any of those this time around).
The winds make it hard to focus on anything else. They seem to draw everyone under their spell. Books and songs have been written about them, and they are referenced in TV shows, movies, magazines, and newspapers as being nearly hypnotic as well as destructive. They force you to pay attention to them by electrifying your skin and throwing grit in your face any time you walk out the door. It's like everything else has to be put on hold until they finally blow themselves out. And when they are gone, everyone comes out slowly, blinking in the sun, as if they've been hiding in a bunker and just now feel it's safe enough to expose themselves and finally survey the damage.
I think I may hibernate until all this is over.
Image sources here