Sirocco, scirocco, jugo or, rarely, siroc is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe. It is known in North Africa by the arabic word qibli (قبلی i.e. “coming from the qibla”.)
A sirocco from Libya blowing dust over the Mediterranean, Malta, Italy, and Greece
Origin of name
Scirocco and Sirocco are Italian names from which its Greek name, “σιρόκος” (sirokos), is derived, while jugo is its name in Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, and ghibli in Libya. The sirocco reaching the south of France contains more moisture and is known as the marin. In the Canary Islands this oppressive, hot, dust bearing wind is called La Kalima. The name of sirocco in the southwest of Spain is leveche, and xaloc in Catalan. The leveche usually carries red Sahara dust and is associated with storms and heavy rain, the wind being very strong, lasting about 4 days. In Malta, it is known as xlokk.
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. 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 cold, wet weather in Europe. The Sirocco’s duration may be a half day or many days. Many people attribute health problems to the Sirocco either because of the heat and dust along the African coastal regions or the cool dampness in Europe. The dust within the Sirocco winds can degrade mechanical devices and invade domiciles.
These winds with speeds of almost 100 kilometres per hour are most common during the autumn and the spring. They reach a peak in March and in November, with a maximum speed of about 100 km/h (55 knots).