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The winds in Spain – a lot of hot air

Everyone knows about the rain in Spain but the winds deserve a mention. We’ve been here in March when it barely relented for five days in a row and, on the odd occasion, we thought we’d end up somewhere over the rainbow.

The fabulous meteorologist Steph Ball (on Twitter), who’s based in Gibraltar, drew our attention to the terral wind blowing. We’d never heard of it, so did a bit of research. It’s one of several ‘types’ of wind it seems (most known by different names, depending on where you live in Spain):

Terral: A hot wind that comes out of the interior from north to south picking up heat as it travels overland. Terral is its name around Málaga but around the world it can be known as the Chinook winds (east of the Rocky Mountains, US), the Helm Wind (Pennines, UK) and the Zonda (Andes, Argentina).

Levante: An easterly wind that blows in the western Mediterranean and southern France. When it blows through the Strait of Gibraltar it’s called the Viento de Levante or the Levanter and helps form dramatic clouds. It’s also known as the Solano.

Poniente: A warm, dry westerly wind that blows across the Atlantic onto the west Mediterranean coast and through the Strait of Gibraltar. Tarifa is well known for its winds making it a popular windsurfing destination. The Levante is more dominant in the summer and the Poniente in the winter.

Cierzo: A strong, dry (often cold) wind that blows from the North or Northwest through the regions of La Rioja, Aragon and Navarra in the Ebro valley. Happens when there’s an area of low-pressure in the Mediterranean and an anticyclone in the Bay of Biscay.

Leveche: A dry, warm wind often to the south-east coast between Almeria and Valencia. It can also be a hot, southerly wind in advance of a low pressure area moving from the Sahara Desert. It’s called a Sirocco in other parts of the Mediterranean area.

So, forget snakes on a plane, this is shakes on a plane and shows one trying to land at Bilbao airport. Pass the sick bag.


Finally, here’s a 1978 performance of the song ‘Winds of March’ by US band Journey with treacle-voiced Steve Perry doing his stuff in the…er…Windy City, Chicago. (M once met them all at a London show a few years later.) It’s here for no other reason than it has ‘Winds’ in the title. Great song though.]

Related posts:

The rain came

Lightning: a first time for everything

The rain in Spain

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All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


3 thoughts on “The winds in Spain – a lot of hot air

  1. That plane landing! Terrifying!

    Posted by Expat Eye | August 13, 2014, 6:52 pm
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