What are Meltemi winds and how can they affect your yacht charter vacation?
The Meltemi wind (/melˈtemē/ /mɛlˈtɛmi/ ) is the strong dry north wind that blows in July and August across the Aegean Sea. ‘The Meltemi winds are known by old Greeks as the Etesian northern winds and are not viewed in a bad way as they bring cooler weather, low humidity, and good visibility.’ Here we will cover what you should consider when they’re present and how Meltemi winds may affect your yacht charter vacations.
The Meltemi Weather Conditions
The Meltemi winds of Greece are seasonal, a hot and dry wind that blows from the north of Greece across the Aegean Sea. They are a natural phenomenon that occurs yearly, which is why you may sometimes hear them referred to as Etesian Winds. The wind is created by atmospheric pressure differences between Europe and Africa combined with different temperatures across the Mediterranean Sea. The wind starts blowing from the north across the seas, and because there is little to stop it, the wind builds up quite some speed before it reaches islands or what may be in its way.
The Winds in July and August
In the months of July and August, the Meltemi blows strongly, but you can expect these northern winds to blow anytime between June and September. These winds peak can reach 7 and 8 Beaufort. What does that mean? Waves 13-19 ft, white foam streaks off breakers. That can put winds as high as 75 miles an hour. These winds can provide some relief in the heat of the season, as it helps to reduce the very high summer temperatures experienced in parts of Greece, but it does make getting around a bit tricky.
What Greek islands are affected by the Meltemi winds?
The islands of the Aegean. The most well-known for being affected by the winds are The Cyclades islands. Mykonos may be nicknamed the island of the winds, nearby Andros and Tinos probably experience the Meltemi the most. The effects of the Meltemi do not only run through the Cyclades. The eastern side of mainland Greece, the Sporades, islands of Northeastern Aegean, the Dodecanese Islands, and even Crete are exposed to them.
Can you avoid the Meltemi Winds?
The Meltemi winds are quite welcome on all but the strongest blowing days. It’s always nice to have a little breeze when on the beach which helps to reduce the peak summer season heat on the islands to more tolerable levels. It’s not quite so much fun though on the strongest blowing days. Your Captain will find the beaches and coves sheltered from these winds by may require flexibility on your part as you may not be able to move from that location until the winds calm. As they blow strongest in July and August, there are other options to charter in Greece. The Ionian Islands are a great alternative. Head to the Ionian islands instead for your holiday!
Do the winds blow for a long time?
At times, you can go two weeks without experiencing the slightest Meltemi breeze, other times, it seems to blow for days without a break. Typically, if there is going to be a wind, it will blow strongest from mid-morning to around sunset.
What do the Meltemi winds do to swimming and water sports?
You should exercise caution when taking part in watersports activities or swimming when it is windy. The strongest swimmers can find themselves in trouble if they go too far out on a windy day. These very windy days might be a good opportunity to go hiking, check out a traditional village, or spend a long lunch in a taverna drinking the Greek wine.
Can ferries or yachts dock at the port when it’s windy?
On the windiest days, the larger boats and ferries can sail. The difficulty for these vessels will be trying to dock at some of the smaller island ports. It is not unusual for ferries and yachts to be delayed by some hours on Meltemi days. When planning to go Greek island hopping during the Meltemi season, allow a little flexibility in your travel plans just in case. The captain of your crewed yacht charter will know how to handle these winds and keep you safe and entertained. Luxury yachts will find a place to “hunker down” if need be. You will still be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the taverns in the town port.
Sailing when the Meltemi blows
The waves can get very large, and the gusts can make sailing in a boat quite challenging. It is best to find a calm port to put down the anchor.
Meltemi Winds FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Meltemi winds.
What causes the Meltemi wind?
Meltemi includes pressure build-ups in South East Asia and the Black Sea and rainfall in the Balkans. The winds start to blow there is a funneling effect that amplifies the winds as they blow south.
Is Mykonos always windy?
Mykonos is known as a windy island. Mainly in the July – August period. It is one of those affected by the Meltemi. Mykonos is no more or less windy than other areas in Greece without the Meltemi winds.
Are the Cyclades windy?
Yes. They can be windy in the peak summer months due to the Meltemi weather pattern. Winds will blow from north to south.
How long do the Meltemi winds last?
The winds can start in June and end in September, but the peak months are July and August. The winds gather strength in the morning and die down in the evening. The Meltemi winds can last a week, take a pause, and then restart.
What are the windiest Greek islands?
The windiest Greek islands can be felt on the Aegean islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Tinos, and Evia island. The Meltemi winds are often the heaviest in July and August during the day.