A bit of sand with your wind


I realised that my car was crying out for its yearly wash last week, after a visit from the Sirocco, a southern wind bringing hot dry air from Africa. This wind is fairly rare in the region but when it blows, it leaves everything covered in a layer of fine red sand – souvenir from the Sahara desert! This time, it seems that the winds were so strong that the sand actually reached as far as London.

Other main winds in the region are La Tramontane and Le Marin although there are several others to fixate and fascinate a meteorologist – which I am not!.

La Tramontane
According to the dictionary, the word tramontane used as an adjective means ’on or coming from the other side of the mountains’ (as opposed to ‘cismontane’ which means on ‘this side’ of the mountains) or ’coming from another country’

This cold and often violent wind blows across the region from the north west and can last for several days or more . It is comparable to the ’Mistral’ but slightly less violent and can cause heavy rain depending on other meteorological conditions. It passes through the narrow corridor between the Pyrénéan Mountains and the Massif Central, and is created by the meeting of the high pressure from the Atlantic with the low pressure of the Mediterranean in the Golfe de Lion.

It is said that it always blows in series of three days.

The word ‘Tramontane’ can also be used to describe anyone who lives on the other side of mountains, or even more generally, anything seen as foreign, strange, or even barbarous!

An old law passed by Napoleon excused “crimes of passion” committed when the Mistral had been blowing for over three days. If you have spent time in the P.-O during several days of Tramontane, it is easy to understand how nerves get frayed !

Le Marin.
Meaning ’coming from the sea’, this wind is a warm marine wind blowing inland from the Mediterranean (south-east) and often bringing with it low cloud and mist, and a humid atmosphere

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