Do you know what a Sirocco is?

A Sirocco is a Mediterranean wind coming from the Sahara desert which normally reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe and brings uncomfortably humid air. This name is commonly given to hot southeast and southwest winds accompanied by humidity.

But how is it actually formed?

The beginnings of a Sirocco wind are formed in the upper level depressions moving eastward across the southern Mediterranean Sea or northern Africa. Normally this phenomenon originates either over North Africa or sometimes over the Southern Alps but mainly in the Gulf of Genoa.

Sirocco winds have different characteristics from one place to another. While the air moves northward across the Mediterranean Sea, the wind gathers much moisture due to its high temperature and travels in Portugal, Spain, Malta, France Sicily, southern Italy, Croatia and also Greece feeling very hot and humid. While travelling northwards, it creates clouds, fog and rain over northern Mediterranean areas.

It also has different local names depending on where it is experienced including ghibli in Lybia, jugo in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, Slovakia and jugu in Albania.

The hot air of the wind comes directly from the Sahara desert creating hot, dry and dusty conditions. It brings dust that may cause physical damage and problems like luck of visibility, headaches and insomnia in some.  Occasionally Sirocco winds can even produce sandstorms due to the large amounts of dust that they pick up. This hot humid wind affects the weather which can reach up to 40°C during the day and 30°C during the night. It can be experienced the whole year-round regardless of the period or the season.

However, it is most common to see a strong gale-force sirocco during the spring period in May with wind forces between 5 and 8 Bft.


Raymond Bucko, SJ -