Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Wildfires

Weather here in Colorado is beautiful while summer transitions in to fall, the leaves change color, temperatures drop, and snow begins to fall. Weather at this time of year is usually beautiful however, it has a made a turn for the worst.

I am from a small town called Ramona, outside of San Diego. Being from the area currently in danger I know that the strong Santa Ana winds mixing with the extremely dry air and dry brush on the ground means that fires that start are extremely hard to put out.

Southern California does not receive much rain year round. This leaves the brush and plant life dry and easy to burn. Santa Ana winds begin with strong high pressure to the north and a deep low pressure to the south. This creates a strong pressure gradient which forces strong winds to come out of the northeast. The California coast is anything but flat. Mountains extend from Mexico up through central California and extend from the desert to the coast. As winds move in from the northeast the air is forced downward, known as down slope, and is warmed up and dried up. The wind is then pushed through valleys where it is then accelerated at fast rates creating gusty conditions. If a fire were to start it makes it very hard to stop as winds push the flames towards dry brush which only fuels the fires more.

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