Downslope Windstorms of San Diego County. Part I: A Case Study
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Downslope Windstorms of San Diego County. Part I: A Case Study


Abstract The “Santa Ana” wind is an offshore flow that affects Southern California periodically during the winter half of the year, typically between September and May. The winds can be locally gusty, particularly in the complex terrain of San Diego County, where the winds have characteristics of downslope windstorms. These winds can cause and/or rapidly spread wildfires, the threat of which is particularly acute during the autumn season before the onset of winter rains. San Diego’s largest fires, including the Cedar fire of 2003 and Witch Creek fire of 2007, occurred during Santa Ana wind events. A case study of downslope flow during a moderately intense Santa Ana event during mid-February 2013 is presented. Motivated by the need to forecast winds impinging on electrical lines, the authors make use of an exceptionally dense network of near-surface observations in San Diego County to calibrate and verify simulations made utilizing the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, which in turn is employed to augment the observations. Results demonstrate that this particular Santa Ana episode consists of two pulses separated by a protracted lull. During the first pulse, the downslope flow is characterized by a prominent hydraulic jumplike feature, while during the second one the flow possesses a clear temporal progression of winds downslope. WRF has skill in capturing the evolution and magnitude of the event at most locations, although most model configurations overpredict the observed sustained wind and the forecast bias is itself biased.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View