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Mediterranean Local Winds

Levanter: This is an easterly wind that blows through the Gibraltar Straits.  Usually a light to moderate wind tat carries excessive moisture, heavy dew, thick muggy atmosphere and sometimes rain., It is most frequent from July to October and in March but seldom blows with gale force. It may occur at any time of the year


Vendavales: The Vendavales are strong south-westerly winds in the Gibraltar Strait off the east coast of Spain. They are associated with advancing depressions in late autumn to early spring. They are likely to be interspersed with thunderstorms and violent squalls.
Leveche: A dry, scorching, sand and dust-laden wind blowing from between south-east and south-west, Limited to the south-east coast of Spain between Almeria and Valencia it extends just a few miles inland, and occurs in front of an advancing depression

Levantades: Gales from between north-north-east and east-north-east are the most important gales of the east coast of Spain. They are known locally as llevantades, and are an intense form of the llevante or Levante, e.g. north-easterly winds of long fetch, as opposed to diurnal coastal breezes. These gales are most frequent and dangerous in spring and autumn (February to May and October to December), and are generally associated with slow-moving depressions crossing the Mediterranean between France and Algeria.

Mistral: A strong northerly wind in the Gulf of Lions and Rhone Valley. Dry air bringing bright and clear weather with very cold temperatures to the south of France. The Mistral can reach gale force in the winter months and is capable of producing heavy seas in a short space of time.


Bora: A wind which occurs along the eastern shore of the North Adriatic and is similar to the Mistral. It is a NE wind occurring chiefly in winter, when it may attain gale force. Violent gusts and squalls, sometimes reaching 100 knots, occur on the eastern side of the Adriatic. These can present a danger to shipping, as they often set in with little or no warning.


Scirocco: A southerly wind blowing off the North African Continent in advance of a low pressure system. It often extends up to the Adriatic where it may reach gale force, often accompanied by heavy rain. Libyan’s name this wind  Ghibli or Chibli.


Gregale: A strong North Easterly wind of the central and west Mediterranean areas, mainly during the cold seasons. It can blow continuously for up to five days, but usually lasts only one or two, bringing fine or showery weather. (Possibly hail.)


Fohn: A warm dry wind experienced to leeward of high mountain ridges, such as the Northern Alps and the Andes. Moisture-laden winds are forced to ascend the slopes, and become saturated so undergoing a reduction of temperature at the SALR of about 3°F per 1000 feet. Cloud is formed and heavy precipitation occurs on the windward side. The wind then descends on the leeward side and undergoes an increase of temperature at the DALR of about 5°F per 1000 feet.


Marin: A strong wind in the Gulf of Lions blowing from a south-easterly direction, and is as frequent and important as the mistral in this region. It is usually warm, moist and cloudy, with rain and thick weather, and is associated with depressions which enter the Gulf of Lions from the west or south-west after crossing southern France and northern Spain.


Libeccio: The Libeccio is the westerly or south-westerly wind which predominates in northern Corsica all the year round; it frequently raises high seas and may give violent westerly squalls. In summer it is most persistent, but in winter it alternates with the Tramontana (north-east or north).


Tramontana: This is a local name for a north-easterly or northerly wind which in winter is prominent on the west coast of Italy and fairly prevalent off the north of Corsica. It is a fresh wind of the fine-weather mistral type, and does not often reach gale force. It is associated with a depression over the Adriatic simultaneously with an anticyclone further west.


Meltemi (Etesians): Occuring during the summer in the Aegean Sea, the prevailing winds of the main circulation are due chiefly to a deep continental depression centered over the north-west of India. The winds are known as Meltemi by the Turks and Etesians by the Greeks. They blow from a direction anywhere between north-east and north-west. Meltemi weather is ordinarily fine and clear, the northerly winds tempering the summer heat of the region.


Maestro: The Maestro is a north-westerly wind which blows in the summer months in the Adriatic when pressure is low over the Balkan Peninsula. Produces a fresh breeze, seldom strong, accompanied by fine weather and light clouds.


Khamsin: This name applies to dry, dusty and mostly hot southerly winds in Egypt, and the Red Sea, much like the dry sirocco further west. The Khamsin is not limited to any single wind direction, but is associated with a dry, hot, dust-laden atmosphere. Khamsin winds blow in front of depressions moving eastward over the Mediterranean or through Northern Africa, and the name is frequently applied both to the depressions themselves and to the characteristic weather which accompanies them. They are most frequent in the spring, from February to June.

Knowledge of these wind can be important when passage planning to your next marina as if entr is difficult or even impossible an alternative marina may be needed.


Sources 1 yachtua; Marine weather Observer, Maritme Meteorology