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Since You Asked: Bogie loved his Santana, not the Santa Anas

In the media coverage of the recent fires in Southern California, the hot winds that caused so much trouble were constantly referred to as "Santa Ana" winds.

Several years ago while working in Napa I read a very interesting article on weather patterns in California. This article pointed out that the correct name for the hot desert winds was "Santana," not Santa Ana. Santa Ana was a long-dead Mexican general.

A short time later, while reading a biography of Humphrey Bogart, I came on a quote by his wife, Lauren Bacall that, "Humphrey named his boat Santana after the hot desert winds."

Please look into your vast resources and tell us what is the correct name for those winds.


— Edward G., Central Point

Maybe they were named the Carlos Santana Winds, for the wind going out of his career? Nah, too recent.

You've hit on a minor controversy divided into four camps, according to an interesting article we found at the San Diego Historical Society Web site. The main camp and the one that holds the most water for us (and most of Southern California) is that the name came from the Santa Ana Canyon, from where settlers believed the winds poured out.

The other three are divided among "satana," the Spanish word for satan; "santana," an alleged Indian word that means "bad wind"; and "Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna" the Mexican general you mention.

The article we found cites research by an L.A. Times writer decades ago citing a regional Indian language expert as saying there was never any Indian word "santana." And the winds and region had their name long before Gen. Santa Anna was known. They explain any subsequent "santana" spellings or pronunciations as colloquial and incidental. Perhaps like "Del Norte" County to our southwest is pronounced "dell NORT" instead of the proper "dell NOR-tay."

As for Bogart's boat, we couldn't immediately verify that quote you found, but we did discover that the Santana is still sailing after several subsequent ownership transfers and now has been refitted and sails out of San Francisco.

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