The winds of the Mediterranean

Sirocco, scirocco, /sɪˈrɒk/, jugo or, rarely, siroc (Catalan: Xaloc, Greek: Σορόκος, Spanish: Siroco, Occitan: Siròc, Eisseròc, Croatian: Jugo, literally southerly , Libyan Arabic: Ghibli, Egypt: khamsin, Tunisia: ch'hilli) is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and can reach hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe, especially during the summer season.


It arises from a warm, dry, tropical airmass that is pulled northward by low-pressure cells moving eastward across the Mediterranean Sea, with the wind originating in the Arabian or Sahara deserts.[1] The hotter, drier continental air mixes with the cooler, wetter air of the maritime cyclone, and the counter-clockwise circulation of the low propels the mixed air across the southern coasts of Europe.


The sirocco causes dusty dry conditions along the northern coast of Africa, storms in the Mediterranean Sea, and cool wet weather in Europe. The sirocco's duration may be as short as half a day or may last several days. While passing over the Mediterranean Sea, the sirocco picks up moisture; this results in rainfall in the southern part of Italy, known locally as "blood rain" due to the red sand mixed with the falling rain. Many people attribute health problems to the sirocco, either because of the heat and dust along the African coastal regions, or because of the cool dampness in Europe. The dust within the sirocco winds can cause abrasion in mechanical devices and penetrate buildings.

Sirocco winds with speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (54 knots) are most common during autumn and spring. They reach a peak in March and in November when it is very hot.

When combined with a rising tide, the sirocco can cause the acqua alta phenomenon in the Venetian Lagoon.


  1. ^ Golden Gate Weather Services. Names of Winds. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.

External links



Alternative forms


From Italian scirocco (south-east wind), from Andalusian Arabic شَلُوق.



sirocco (plural siroccos)

  1. A hot southerly to southeasterly wind on the Mediterranean that originates in the Sahara and adjacent North African regions.
    Synonyms: ghibli (Libya)
    • 1888 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist 1'
      This tolerance and largeur of the heart that 'forgives' everything because it 'understands' everything, is sirocco for us.
    • 1814 George Gordon, Lord Byron Corsair, i:14
      But come, the board is spread ; our silver lamp / Is trimm'd, and heeds not the sirocco's damp.
  2. A draft of hot air from an artificial source of heat.



  • 1896 Universal Dictionary of the English Language, vol 4 p 4286

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