Sirocco is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe.
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 as short as half a day or may last several days. 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 are most common during the autumn and the spring. They reach a peak in March and in November when it is very hot, with a maximum speed of about 100 km/h (55 knots).
Exam Question Tips:
Low pressure area in the western part of the Mediterranean is a favourable synoptic situation for the development of a Sirocco.