The article I have posted as my citation will answer your question far better than I, but essentially, the Santa Ana winds begin in the northeastern part of Southern California. The winds blow around high pressure areas, and then move west to the Pacific Ocean, where low pressure areas are located. The winds blow over the mountains before reaching the coast, and as it moves downward from mountain altitudes, it is warm and compressed. As the winds move through valleys, they speed up, which acts like a fan for any forest fires that might be present.
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