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Windy mistake

If you grew up, as I did, in Southern California during the first half of the 20th century, you were well acquainted with santanas – the hot dry winds that blew down the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sometime in mid-century a reporter, new to the area (and with a hearing problem?) mistook “santana” for “Santa Ana,” and, presto chango, the santanas became Santa Anas.

I cringe every time I hear the misnomer. The mistake is understandable, considering the proximity of the city and canyon of this name, and the enormous influx of people unacquainted with California history and the beautiful Spanish place names so prevalent in the area.



“Santana” is the Spanish word for “devil,” and the early settlers called the winds “devil winds.” How the extra “n” crept in is unclear. Actually, these winds occur throughout the length of the state, being called a variety of names. In Northern California they are called “Diablo” – certainly more accurate than Santa Anas. Ugh.

Marian Jobe




Grass Valley


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