O.C. Answer Man: Are they Santa Ana winds, or santana winds?

It’s time to settle this. These sporadic gales from the northeast are named for Santa Ana Canyon, through which they blow. The earliest published reference to “Santa Ana winds” appeared in an 1871 edition of the Anaheim Gazette. The Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce and local real estate honchos began complaining about the moniker as early as 1902.

But it wasn’t until 1922 that Santa Ana real estate financier Cotton Mather (a descendant of the famed colonial witch-burner) proposed changing the bedeviling winds’ name to “santana,” to lessen the perceived connection to the city. He told the Santa Ana Register, erroneously, that santana is a Native American word meaning windstorm, and he encouraged local newspapers to start using the term. Within two years, the new name began appearing in some weather reports. Today you might hear both. But Santa Ana remains historically correct.

Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com.

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