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Santa Ana Winds Return: Surf’s Up and Malibu’s on High Alert

Posted by John Hathorn on January 28, 2011
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It’s that time again. The Santa Ana winds have returned and have been kicking up all week and it looks like we have several more days of the “Devil Winds” ahead of us.

As a lifelong surfer I always get excited about Santa Anas. If you don’t surf you may not know that when the wind blows from the shore toward the ocean (off shore winds) the surf is usually really, really great. When we lived in Santa Monica these Santa Anas were never really an annoyance and the wonderful surfing made all the allergies flaring and crocodile skin well worth it.

Now that we live in Malibu the winds are a far more serious issue for us. Here are the reasons why:

  • The winds are far stronger as they pass through the canyons and can wreak havoc causing debris to fall in the roads and occasional power outages.
  • The most dangerous consequence of these winds is their devastating fire potential. Everyone feels a little on edge while the winds blow, knowing that disaster that can strike at any time.

During the last Malibu firestorm, PCH was closed and only the locals, who had to present ID to prove they lived in Malibu, were permitted to ride the waves. As a result, not only were the waves shapelier because of the off shore Santa Anas, there were no crowds.

After living in Malibu for 12 years and experiencing the winds and a few fires, you automatically start thinking of your preparedness when the weather starts acting up. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when gauging you and your family’s safety:

  1. Are the cars fueled?
  2. Are your important documents handy?
  3. Where are your family members and where will you all meet in the event of a fire?

We have found that making concrete plans as to what we have to do in the event of a fire makes the winds a little less stressful. I have transferred all my old VHS tapes to DVDs and am in the process of scanning all the family photos (which is a huge job by the way). Storing the CDs and having them handy makes them so much easier to put in the car if you have to leave in a hurry. It’s just one example of the many things that can make you feel that you are ready to evacuate if you have to so.

I wish I could have the great surf without the fire danger, but since that’s rarely the case, let’s just hope the winds abate soon and that the worst we have to deal with is dry skin and runny noses.

What do think of the Santa Ana Winds? How do you ensure you’re prepared in times of crisis? Please share your tips and get the conversation started.

Photos courtesy of SuziJane’s Flickr and Caveman’s Flickr

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