The winds of the Adriatic Sea
You might be surprised but it is true. Winds here are a daily affair. Though some may be cooling, not all are same. They change with seasons having a characterization of weather into warm, wet, cold, dry, and stable.
However, winds are much stronger during the winter than summer.
If you are an inexperienced sailor, these winds might get too much for you to handle. A sailing yacht should be taken out to sea for cruising during existing wind types like Maestral, Levant and Lebic and not during Jugo or Bura (specially not the latter one).
If you intend on coming to Croatia for a sailing vacation you should be warned beforehand. Although it is one of the best ways to get away, mind you the winds can get very disturbing, dangerous, and dramatic together, making you feel uneasy and dissatisfied with their ravaging behavior.
There are different types of winds that cross the Adriatic Sea. Read below to find out who is the strongest and who is the calmest.
Bura needs no introduction. It is a cold and dry wind that blows from NNE to ENE. Incredibly famous in Croatia, this coldest wind blows down from the mountains. It originated from the word Green meaning ‘going downhill’. Bura is famous and heavy wind. It hits the sea with full force at great speed. Bura can be light and dark, light meaning when there are clear skies and dark meaning when dark clouds gather moving to the sea bringing rain. The question often arises, when is the best time to sail during Bura? The answer is during midday when it is at its weakest. It tends to get stronger and goes into full speed mode by afternoon. It strikes hard during early evening time. It leaves you feeling unpleasant on your skin, decreases visibility for sailors and makes it hard to breathe.
It finds its way to the sea from the mountains bringing cold and heavy air whilst sweeping all the junk from land to sea. Air temperatures drop easily and during winter they are stronger and last longer while during summer they are weaker and lasts shortly. But once it vanishes, the fresh air that lingers is a trail that is worth it, left behind by the cold air strikes of the Bura.
Jugo is not as bad as Bura, but it causes its own set of problems while sailing. The meaning of Jugo in Croatian language is ‘the wind blowing from the south’. But this rather comes from southeast. In certain parts of Croatia, it is sometimes called as Silok. The wind exists throughout all four seasons repetitive only in the south than the north of the Adriatic Sea. It brings about changes in the weather like low pressure, high humidity, frequent clouds, and rain with thunder. In summer it blows with less intensity while in winter it lasts for 10days-3weeks. It gets rougher on the open sea and calmer at the coasts. Signs that Jugo is approaching are calm sea, weak winds, air pressure drop, rise in temperature, and unclear horizon. It gains strength gradually. Locals say that it causes a change even in their moods giving a weary sense of feeling.
Maestral is more friendly wind in comparison to dangerous Bura. If that is the enemy, this is the ally. Sailors and locals enjoy the breeze it brings. This wind, which is rampant during the summer, cools one down on hot days. Due to differences in temperatures between land and sea, this wind blows from the sea towards the land. Maestral follows the path of the sun. Hence, during the morning, it blows from south to east. As afternoon approaches, it changes its direction towards northwest. This wind type is stronger in the central and southern Adriatic areas compared to the north, during July and August. The absence of this wind causes major change in the upcoming weather. It is pleasant wind to sail in.
Levant is a cold type of wind that blows from east accompanied by clouds and rain. It is not definite as it can either bring cold weather, resembling Bura or warm weather, resembling Jugo. Levant shows itself by appearing often in months of February and March. Although some sailors find it suitable because of its force, some may not like the cold weather it brings.
This wind blows from northern to northwestern direction quite strongly. It occurs and blows just after Bura wind or a rain shower ensuring peaceful and calm weather. It is not as strong as Bura, but the further it blows away from the coast, it tends to cause larger waves. Once it finally reached its destination which is the open sea, it can blow rather stronger than usual, almost exactly like Bura.
Blowing in from south, Ostro arrives first followed by Maestral. At times, it can keep blowing all day long until sunset. It is more of a transitional type of wind since it shows up when Jugo turns towards western direction bringing unpleasant weather, rain, clouds, and big waves.
Unpleasant in nature, Lebic, also called Garbin blows in from southwest. Along the Adriatic coastline, many harbors do not really like this wind. It blows on cloudy days mostly followed by rain or moderate showers.
It produces large waves making it problematic to reach the harbor by blocking visibility and hard to sail. Signs to look out for Lebic are stripes of fog on the horizon, high tide, drop in air pressure. It can result in muddy waters in case of sand/gravel beaches.
Coming from west during the cold season, Pulenat appears when Jugo takes a sudden turn towards south up to west. But it does not last for long and is neither strong. Sailing into small harbors can be difficult since its dangerous. Pulenat helps form large waves and enrages the calm sea by bringing rain. Very often, forceful Bura follows Pulenat.
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