Local Winds

Local winds are driven by local effects.

Sea and land breezes are simple examples of how uneven heating and cooling of the air can set up thermal circulations and create local winds.

A similar situation creates mountain and valley winds.

Often these winds are moderate and just part of the local environment. But some local winds are more dangerous.

If you’re from Southern California, you’re probably familiar with the Santa Ana, a fierce, searing wind that often drives raging wildfire into foothill. It blows from the interior desert region of Southern California across coastal mountain ranges to reach the Pacific coast. It warms as it descends, and it is often funneled through local mountain gaps and across canyon floors with great force.

Other local winds include the chinook, a warm and dry local wind that results when air passes over a mountain range and descends on the lee side. It is known for rapidly evaporating and melting snow.

The mistral of the Rhône Valley in southern France is a cold, dry local wind that descends from high plateaus through mountain passes and valleys.

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