The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

When The Scirocco Blows

A sirocco from Libya blowing dust over the Mediterranean, Malta, Italy, and Greece
Image source

Living right in the middle of the Mediterranean with no natural barriers for protection does have its downside sometimes. Today was one of them. We woke up to overcast skies but this time it did not rain. It was those dreaded clouds of humidity which engulf the island every time the wind blows from the South. The scirocco is a hot south wind which blows from the Sahara. As it speeds northwards over the sea, it picks up moisture - a lot of moisture. Then it hits the island and hovers above us like a cloud of doom. During the winter months, the clammy wind feels like the touch of a corpse on all your exposed body parts. In the summer, the heat, added to the humidity, is insufferable. It feels like you can't breathe. It's not as bad in winter but a number of ailments are blamed on the scirocco: headaches, dizziness, hay fever, depression. I suppose it's good to find a scapegoat for all our problems, but the reality is that the atmosphere does feel oppressive when the scirocco blows; and if that were not enough, the scirocco leave behind it a thin fine layer of orange-red dust which carpets everything from cars to houses to trees ... In some countries it snows. Over here we get covered with Sahara dust.

The scirocco season is usually prevalent between late March and early June and then we have another season between mid-August and the end of October. But no month is guaranteed to be scirocco free. Some days in May get pretty bad and literally everything that is outside is coloured orange. When it blows away, people have to wash cars, house facades, windows ... and this just before the summer dry season commences. Not the best use of our scarce water resources, I am afraid.

The only people who gain some benefit from this layer of dust are the farmers. The Sahara soil is very fertile and each year, the fields get some free fertiliser from above. I suppose that everything has its uses; we just need to look at the big scheme of things. But I still heave a sigh of relief when a north-west wind picks up and blows those clouds of doom away.

Ah... everyone can breathe easier now.

1 comment:

  1. We have just had 2 coptic storms, the El Fedra El Kibirain ones from the West. This time they left us with lots of rain, thank goodness! I love the sand storm, it usually arrives just as we have cleaned the windows and pool!! In 2005 it was very bad here in Cyprus, the worst for years. It looked amazing as it came on a cloud rush over the mountains but not so good on the floor etc. The storms do affect our mood, DH and I felt quite low for a few days, it was like spring today though and we chirruped away with the birds. :)


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