Asynchronous lightning and Santa Ana winds highlight human role in southern California fire regimes

Jacob Bendix, Justin J. Hartnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Southern California's most extreme fire weather is caused by offshore Santa Ana winds, which commonly occur later in the year than the lightning which provides natural ignition. Examination of the specific dates of both lightning and Santa Ana winds over 25 years shows that Santa Ana winds are very rare during or even within ten days of lightning strikes. The median lag between the two phenomena is 52 days, and on those occasions when lightning does occur shortly before Santa Ana winds, the actual density of strikes is very low. The rarity of lightning as ignition for Santa Ana-driven fires suggests that the current fire regime dominated by such fires is largely a product of the abundance of human-caused ignition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number074024
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 6 2018



  • Fire
  • Fire regime
  • Foehn winds
  • Pyrogeography
  • Santa Ana winds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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