Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2019

California fires 2019: What are Santa Ana winds? Why are they so dangerous? | World | News

Millions of Californians are being affected by intense wildfires across the US state. So far, fires including the Kincade Fire and the Getty Fire have forced 50,000 people from their homes. A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles and Sonoma counties.

California’s fire department, known as Cal Fire, says the state is experiencing “critical fire weather”.

The biggest blaze of the season, the Kincade Fire, has burned through 21,900 acres of land in northern California’s Sonoma County – an area known for its wine.

The fire started on Wednesday and remains uncontained.

High winds appear to have spread the fires as gusts of up to 70mph have swept much of the state.

READ MORE: California wildfires MAP: What areas are affected by horrifying fires?

Why are Santa Ana winds so dangerous?

While a wildfire can break out in absence of a Santa Ana, it is during these long-lasting events, that multiple and extensive wildfires can result.

The most notorious Santa Ana winds also bring extremely hot weather.

Under these circumstances, the risk of wildfire ignition and spread is the greatest.

When the air gets this hot, it also become extremely dry and the wildfire potential becomes extreme.

During this time, people must be extremely careful with any open flames.

This include burning cigarettes and outdoor power equipment that may lead to sparks.

Remarkably, this year has actually seen a below average amount of fire activity in California.

Compared to last year, when dozens of lives were lost in places like Paradise, Californians know they have been relatively lucky.

However, massive wildfires are still burning and few of them are contained.

Looking back, 14 of the 20 most destructive in the state’s history have occurred since 2007.

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