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Winds of the world

Around the globe there are countless names for local winds that recur throughout the year. Sometimes they are caused due to geographical features such as mountains and bodies of water, other times they are at certain times of the year due to local climates.

In this list we look at some of the most notable local winds around the world:

Berg Bora Chinook Etesian
Foehn Haboob Harmattan Khamsin
Levant Leveche Mistral Scirocco

 

Berg

Location

South western coasts of South Africa and Namibia

Etymology

Afrikaans berg meaning 'mountain'

Description

Winds which blow from inland mountains to the southern and western coasts of Namibia and South Africa.

These winds blow during the winter season and create unseasonably warm temperatures.

Bora

Location

The Adriatic regions of Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia

Etymology

From the Greek boreas meaning 'north-wind'

Description

A cold wind blowing on the north Adriatic coast and north Italian plains predominantly in winter and spring.

 

Chinook

Location

Rocky Mountains, Canada & USA

Etymology

Named after Native American tribe

Description

A warm and dry west wind (a type of foehn) which occurs on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Its arrival is usually sudden, with a consequent large temperature rise and rapid melting of snow.

Etesian

Location

Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean

Etymology

From the Greek etos, meaning 'yearly'

Description

A Greek term for the winds which blow at times in summer (May to September) from a direction between north-east and north-west in the eastern Mediterranean, more especially in the Aegean Sea. The winds are termed 'meltemi' in Turkey.

Foehn effect

Location

European Alps

Etymology

Derived from Latin favonius meaning spring breezes

Description

A warm dry wind that occurs to leeward of a range of mountains. While the name originated in the European Alps it is now used as a more general term for this type of wind worldwide.

Haboob

Location

Sudan

Etymology

From the Arabic habub meaning 'blasting'

Description

The name applies to a duststorm in the Sudan north of about 13° N. They occur from about May to September and are most frequent in the afternoon and evening.

Harmattan

Location

West Africa

Etymology

Possibly from haram meaning 'forbidden thing'

Description

A dry wind blowing from a north-east / easterly direction over north-west Africa. Being both dry and relatively cool, it forms a welcome relief from the steady damp heat of the tropics, and from its health-giving powers it is known locally as 'the doctor'.

It carries with it from the desert great quantities of dust often in sufficient quantity to form a thick haze, which impedes navigation on the rivers.

Khamsin

Location

Egypt and the Red Sea

Etymology

From the Arabic khamsin meaning 'fifty'

Description

A southerly wind blowing over Egypt in front of depressions passing eastwards along the Mediterranean or north Africa, while pressure is high to the east of the Nile.

Because this wind blows from the interior of the continent it is hot and dry, and often carries much dust. It is named referring to the fifty days it was said to blow, most frequently from April to June.

Levant

Location

Spain, South France and Gibraltar

Etymology

From the French levant meaning 'rising'

Description

A humid easterly wind which passes through the Strait of Gibraltar. It is most frequent from June to October, but may occur in any month.

 

Leveche

Location

South east Spain

Etymology

Unknown

Description

A hot, dry, southerly wind which blows on the south-east coast of Spain in front of an advancing depression. It frequently carries much dust and sand, and its approach is indicated by a strip of brownish cloud on the southern horizon.

Mistral

Location

Southern France

Etymology

From the latin magistralis meaning 'master wind'

Description

A north-westerly or northerly wind which blows offshore along the north coast of the Mediterranean from the Delta del Ebro to Genoa. In the region of its chief development its characteristics are its frequency, its strength and its dry coldness.

It is most intense on the coasts of Languedoc and Provence, especially in and off the Rhône delta.

Scirocco

Location

North Africa and Mediterranean

Etymology

From the Greek name Sirokos meaning 'east'

Description

A warm, southerly wind in the Mediterranean region. Near the north coast of Africa the wind is hot and dry and often carries much dust. After crossing the Mediterranean, the scirocco reaches the European coast as a moist wind and is often associated with low Stratus clouds.

It is a blanket terms that encompasses many local winds including Ghibli (Libya), Chili (Tunisia) and Khamsin (Egypt).

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