Meltemi Winds of the Greek Islands

Meltemi winds can be a pretty impressive natural force to experience in the Greek islands. Here’s why…

Meltemi Winds Explained

Meltemi vs. Hurricanes

I’ve covered hurricanes as a TV reporter in Florida and actually stood in howling deadly winds on live television. The truth is meltemi winds are not exactly like hurricanes. Still, for me, the Greek island winds take me by surprise.  If you’re standing in the wrong place, like the port in Serifos where I was last weekend, you can fall in.  yes, I almost fell off the port last week, or felt like I would, very strongly... That would’ve been kind of amusing I guess. 😉  Hence, inspiration for this post.


What are Meltemi Winds?

To be honest, I’m not crazy about meltemi winds, a fact of life living in Greece and having a Greek island house.  First time I heard that word – meltemi -I thought it meant something soothing or cool. The word kind of slides off your tongue.

Meltemi Winds Greek Islands mygreecemytravels (2)

Here’s what they are… Meltemi winds are strong, dry north winds that sweep through the Aegean and other regions of the Mediterranean Sea each year.  The season for these howling winds happens right when you are likely planning your holidays in the Greek islands, from June to September. However, they are at their natural “worst” in July and August.

A Day of Meltemi Winds

The meltemi winds blow blow their darn hardest during the afternoon and they often calm way down at night.  I can remember times when the winds would last for two to three days without a breather.   Meltemi winds have an average strength of 4-5 Beaufort Scale. However, they can reach 5-7 (sometimes even 8) Beaufort Scale. That’s pretty high!

How Does Meltemi Affect You

The Good Points

  • If you love sailing and windsurfing, you obviously love meltemi!
  • Meltemi offers low humidity and good visibility around the islands.
  • Greek islanders see the winds as a cool and welcome relief especially during heatwaves in July and August.

The Bad Points

  • If meltemi winds are blowing very rough, ferries can be canceled or delayed.  If boats aren’t delayed and the winds are still blowing rough (but safe rough), your ferry will be literally rocking back and forth. Not fun for the seasick prone folks like me.
  • Meltemi winds are sometimes dangerous for inexperienced or amateur sailors. The winds may blow over clear weather conditions without warning.
  • If you love sandy beaches, meltemi days mean you get sand in your teeth.  Rocky beaches fare best for your beach experience during such weather conditions.

 A Natural Part of Greek Island Life

Don’t worry, meltemi winds are not anything to fear or avoid. They just happen and nothing can be planned around it. The sun is usually out anyway and tourists are enjoying the sun and the sea none the wiser.  The reality is the worst lasts a few hours, then dies down.

Meltemi Winds Greek Islands mygreecemytravels (5)

How to Get to the Greek Islands

To get to the Greek islands, many international travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens or another major city.  There are some direct seasonal flights to certain island destinations too.  You can find the best flight deals with Vayama.

Have you ever experienced meltemi winds in the Greek islands?


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