Named after the Greek God Etesians, the Meltemi winds are strong, dry, and often gusty and occur in the Aegean Sea region in Greece. These winds are the result of the pressure difference between the Balkans and Turkey. The Meltemi Winds are most common in the Cyclades Islands, but they can also affect other areas of the Aegean Sea. The winds can last from mid-May to mid-September.
During the summer months in Greece, a high-pressure system, known as the Siberian High, develops over the Balkans, while a low-pressure system, called the Aleutian Low, forms over Turkey. This pressure gradient creates a strong airflow from the high-pressure area to the low-pressure area, resulting in the Meltemi Winds. These winds are strongest during the day and usually die down at night time. They can be very welcome on a hot day in July. The Meltemi Winds are influenced by the temperature difference between land and sea. During the summer the land heats up more quickly than the sea, causing the air above the land to rise and draw in cooler air from the sea. Photo Wikipedia.
Sailing in the Aegean Sea during Meltemi Winds can be both exciting and challenging. The winds are known for their strength and consistency, which makes it ideal for sailing enthusiasts. However, there can be some risks that require careful consideration.
Sailing the Meltemi Winds in Greece
- Plan your route before setting sail, study the weather forecast, and plan your route accordingly. Take into account the direction and strength of the winds to ensure a safe and enjoyable sailing experience.
- The winds can reach high speeds. Reef your sails and adjust them to the wind conditions to maintain control and stability.
- The Meltemi Winds can cause rough sea conditions, especially in open areas of the Aegean.
- Avoid sailing rhumb lines (marked green)
- Have a flexible itinerary
- Keep the wind at the beam
- Head northward when the wind dies down.
- Avoid swells by staying in open waters as much as possible
Sailing from Lavrion to Ko (green line) will involve the first part of the sail taking you through windy straits and close to shores. Even in moderate winds, the rhumb line will want to be avoided. It would be best to sail the yellow line on the other map above. You will get to experience more destinations on this route too. The green line will take you into a beating windward wind. For a better sailing experience, it would be best to follow the purple line.
The pink lines are best to be avoided as winds here can become katabatic.
Signs of the Meltemi Winds
Signs of the Meltemi winds approaching can be 24-36 hours out and include:
- Drop in humidity
- Small altocumulus clouds (one day out)
- Improved visibility
- Rise in atmospheric pressure
- Higher predicted atmospheric pressure over the Balkan/Northern Aegean.
Local knowledge can be a valuable source of information. Sailors and residents will be able to provide insights and warnings based on their experiences and observations.
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