Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Breath Of Satan

Here is a little timely and relevant, Southern California, local history lesson.

In 2014 we experienced something that occurs seasonally almost every year - strong wind storms that blow in from the desert east of Riverside and Orange counties.  But that year they were especially fierce.  Hundreds of huge, mature trees blew down all over our town.  Many roofs were destroyed.  It looked like a tornado swept through the area.

Well, it is that time of year again and now these winds are fanning the flames that are burning us the hills in Orange County.

But these terrible winds, in Southern California, are not (and I repeat "ARE NOT") "Santa Ana Winds."

Prior to the 1980s, almost every Southern California resident knew that.  It is odd that so few even remember that now.  Most locals, then, were quick to correct visitors who improperly identified them.  I even remember when weather reporters on local television stations made a point to correctly designate them by their proper name.

Now I understand how easy it is to be confused and misname the winds because of our locale; there is a city, here named Santa Ana and a river by the same name, which, by the way, some would say parallels the approximate path of the winds.

Santa Ana is the Spanish name for Saint Anna who was the alleged mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The name is a derivative of the Hebrew name, Hanna.  Incidentally, there is a neighboring city, Anaheim, which is a German name meaning Ana’s home.  The Ana of Anaheim is purported to be the same Ste. Anna. 

But these winds were not named for her.
Neither are the winds named after the historic Mexican General who led the attack on the Alamo.  He might have been a blowhard but if the winds were named after him, they would have been spelled "Santa ANNA Winds."

The proper, historic name is "SANTANA WINDS."  If you lived in So. Cal. In the 1970s, you may remember Dr. George Fischbeck who was one of the first and most popular T.V. weathermen. He used the name, "Santana Winds," which was based on the "vientos de Satanas," or devil's breath.

These devilishly hot and dry winds blow off the desert which was thought to be the home of the devil in early Southern California folklore.

So there you have it.  For the sake of the preservation of our local folk history, let’s try to be accurate.  The proper name is "SANTANA WINDS."


Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Thanks for that history lesson. Especially all that about the city names. Never knew that.

Carla said...

Thank you! I have always called them Santana winds and so many of my friends would try to correct me, that was back before we had the internet so it was difficult to prove my point.