Generally speaking, the western beaches of Los Angeles have the cleanest air in Southern California—except when the Santa Ana Winds are blowing. A high pressure area parked over Nevada and Utah is sending winds from east to west (the opposite of the usual direction) and blowing all the pollution of the Los Angeles area out to sea. Today, the temperature was around 90° F (33° C) with a brown horizon and smog over the sands of Santa Monica Bay.
Although we get some of our hottest weather this time of year, our only salvation is that sundown comes much earlier. Throughout the month of October, each day is approximately two minutes shorter than the one before it. That’s two minutes of intense sunshine in the bone-dry air that is not beating down on the uninsulated roof of our second-floor apartment, which was built almost seventy years ago. Another nice thing about sundown is that all the blowing dust in the air makes for occasional beautiful sunsets.
Also, around October the mercury drops down to about 60° F (16° C) at night, so the apartment cools down earlier. During the humidity of July, with its long days, it frequently doesn’t cool down until 3 am, if at all.
The Santa Ana Winds are also noted for virulent brush fires that spread uncontrollably through the hills and mountains surrounding the L.A. Basin. Right now, the wind is blowing around 20 miles per hour, which is approximately 9 meters a second. With some luck, we’ll get through this period without having the San Gabriels and Santa Monica Mountains erupt in flames.