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High-resolution ocean surface wind data from NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) illustrate the strength of Santa Ana winds that pounded Southern California this week, causing damage and spreading brush fires. The colored arrows represent various ranges of wind speed, which were still well in excess of 30 knots (34 miles per hour), even after reaching the ocean and weakening. Santa Ana winds are offshore and down-slope winds unique to Southern California that are usually channeled through mountain gaps. These Santa Ana winds extend more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) offshore before changing direction to flow along the shore. The wind speeds and directions are retrieved from range-compressed backscatter data measured by QuikScat that has much higher spatial resolution than QuikScat's standard data products. Useful applications of high-resolution science-quality wind products derived from range-compressed backscatter have been demonstrated in two scientific papers: one on Hurricane Floyd and the other on Catalina Eddies. This is the first demonstration on near-real-time retrieval applications.
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