The etesians (/ɪˈtiːʒənz/ or /ɪˈtiːziənz/; Ancient Greek:
ἐτησίαι, translit. etēsiai, lit. 'periodic
winds'; sometimes found in the Latin form etesiae), meltemia
(Greek: μελτέμια; pl. of μελτέμι meltemi), or meltem
(Turkish) are the strong, dry north winds of the Aegean Sea, which
blow from about mid-May to mid-September. The
Etesian winds are a
dominant weather influence in the Aegean Basin.
They are at their strongest in the afternoon and often die down at
night, but sometimes meltemi winds last for days without a break.
Similar winds blow in the
Adriatic and Ionian regions. Meltemi winds
are dangerous to sailors because they come up in clear weather without
warning and can blow at 7–8 Beaufort. Some yachts and most
inter-island ferries cannot sail under such conditions. However, they
often provide a good, steady sailing wind favored by leisure sailors.
The word etesian ultimately derives from the Greek word ἔτος etos
"year", connotating the yearly fluctuation in frequency of
appearance of these winds. Etesians have been described since ancient
times; their Turkish and the Modern Greek names are probably a loan
from Italian mal tempo 'bad weather'. Though it is sometimes called
a monsoon wind, the meltemi is dry and does not correspond to an
opposite wind in the winter. However, the etesians are distantly
correlated with the summer monsoons of the Indian subcontinent, as it
is a trough of low pressure into the Eastern Mediterranean region that
enforces, if not causes, the etesians to blow in summer. A
Mediterranean climate is sometimes called an etesian climate.
Etesians are due chiefly to the deep continental depression centered
over southwest Asia and blow from a direction which may be anywhere
between north-east and north-west depending on local topography;
meltemi weather is ordinarily fine and clear, the northerly winds
tempering the fierce summer heat of the region.
In the Northern Aegean sea, the etesians blow as winds of
northeasterly to northerly direction. Moving south, in the central
Aegean, they blow as winds of northerly direction, while in the
southern Aegean, the Cretan and the Carpathian sea, they blow as
northwesterlies. The same winds blow in
Cyprus as westerlies to
southwesterlies, being more humid.
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon timed his military operations so
that powerful southern fleets could not reach him: their ships could
sail north only very slowly while the
Etesian winds were blowing.
List of local winds
C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Aegean Sea. Eds. P.Saundry & C.J.Cleveland.
Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the
Environment. Washington DC
Encyclopædia Britannica online, 2007
^ Anomalous, plural number form only, nominative case in -αι,
masculine gender noun or adjective; attested with or without
ἄνεμοι anemoi, "winds"; its genitive case form is
ἐτησίων etēsiōn; cf. ἐτήσιος etēsios, "annual". See
ἐτησίαι, ἐτήσιος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott,
A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
^ Beekes, Robert (2010). "s.v. ἔτος". Etymological Dictionary of
Greek. With the assistance of Lucien van Beek. Brill.
^ ἔτος in Liddell and Scott.
^ Oxford English Dictionary
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