The Evening ‘Sundowners’ That Aren’t So Nice

May 8, 2009 10:09am

You’ve been hearing about the wildfires that are raging in the hills above bucolic Santa Barbara.  The fires ease during the day only to spring up at night.  We are learning about an interesting phenomena at play here, so called "Sundowner" winds.  Late in the day (around sunset) a shift takes place.  The cool, coastal breezes off the ocean quit.  In the mountains, where pressure has been building all day, winds begin to pick up, gusting towards the water.  Those winds are strong — at times reaching 50 plus miles per hour.  They sweep out the moisture and fan the flames.  It means the nighttime is horrific for firefighters trying to control the blazes.  And when the morning light returns, the Sundowners fade.   

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