Meltemi (or Meltemia), the winds of the Aegean

We all know or have heard about the winds of the Aegean, most commonly known under the Turkish name Meltemia that appear during the summer season. The etymology of Meltemi is of Turkish origin. The ancient Greeks called it "Etesian" (Yearly). Meltemia generally belongs to the category of seasonal winds.

Although this katabatic wind can bring about harsh sea conditions it also provides cooling, low humidity and good visibility.

Meltemia are created due to the combination of the low-lying heat in India extending up to the Middle East and Cyprus, with the Anticyclone or the Bermuda-Azores High when it extends to the Balkans or Europe's Anticyclones.

Meltemia in Greece

India's Low is deepening due to the high temperature in the Middle East in the summer, resulting in a significant increase in the pressure differential between the Balkans (High) and the Low (Middle East). This great pressure difference causes the strong winds in the Aegean.

At night, the winds and hence the Meltemi attenuates significantly, due to the temperature that falls significantly in the Middle East, thus increasing the pressure weakening the low, and this way diminishing the pressure difference between the Balkan anticyclone and the Low pressure of the East.

Meltemia in Greece
The direction of these winds in the northern Aegean is from NW, in the southern Aegean and Cretan seas from NW, reaching west directions mainly in Rhodes.

In July and August they have the greatest intensity that reaches or exceeds 8 beauforts. It is very rare to spend the summer and not to have a day when the intensity of the Meltemi not exceed the 8 beauforts.

Meltemia in Greece

As mentioned, Meltemia is strengthened by day and weakens in the evening. This is due to thermal causes. At night, a temperature reversal is created in the lower atmosphere that is above the continental regions of Greece and Turkey, which prevents the transfer of momentum from the upper layers to the surface, while in the day when there is usually no reversal of temperature, the free transfer of momentum increases Meltemia. There is, of course, the influence of the sea breeze, which locally increases the intensity in the winds. The fluctuation of the Meltemia is observed as long as the intensity does not exceed 7 beauforts. If the intensity is 8 or more then winds continue at night with the same intensity.


In general, the weather that accompanies the Meltemia is characterized by clear skies and high waves at sea. This, in some occasions, results in the interruption of trips for small boats.


History and Myth of Meltemia

The old name for the Meltemia was the Etesian winds. Mythologically, they are under the control of Boreas, the god of the North Winds, who can also stir up trouble in winter. The Meltemi winds had an effect on Greek history—supposedly Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, used his knowledge of the winds to time his naval operations, helping him to assure victory over less savvy opponents.


Information sources & related pages:

Meltemia (Etesian) on Wikipedia

Meltemi on SailingIssues.com

Sunglint on the Aegean and Mediterranean (Nasa earthobservatory)

Article topics


Let us know what you think about Meltemi (or Meltemia), the winds of the Aegean - we would love to read your opinion!
Rate this article or place (optional)

From our blog

Rhodes has become one of the most popular destinations for weddings abroad. Its a beautiful island that offers a large variety of locations with gorgeous settings, enabling you to make your wedding day an unforgettable one. Antonis Giannelis, a WPJA award winning wedding photographer located in Rhodes gives practical advice.

Read more about Your wedding in Rhodes - Capturing your most precious moments

Looking for a unique accommodation experience for your stay on Rhodes? We handpicked 10 + 1 of the most outstanding hotels on the island for your vacation, each unique on it's own way.

Read more about Rhodes alternative and exceptional hotels

A Park that invites you to experience art under the Rhodian Sky. The Art park is a non-profit gallery of fine arts, photography, sculpture, and music. We take a look at the park and interview the owner, Mr Damon Papakiriakou, an artist, sculptor and musician.

Read more about Rhodes Art Park

It's winter. You are sitting in your apartment or office, while it's cold outside and the weather is gray, dark and rainy, and you find yourself reading this article. Don't you wish you can go someplace where the winter weather is not necessarily so depressive?

Read more about Wintertime in Rhodes

When you are looking for top things to do in Rhodes, you may find that it is not that easy to pick out just a few options. There are so many different exciting and interesting activities and attractions, narrowing down your options my feel like a small challenge. Let us help you with a few interesting suggestions for top activities, things to do and places to visit on Rhodes.

Read more about Top things to do, places to visit, attractions and activities in Rhodes

2019 is another promising year for cycling events in Rhodes island. With the amazingly variable landscapes that can be friendly for beginners but at the same time advanced cyclists can find great challenges as well. Besides, what better location for a cycling event than a place blessed with more than 300 shinny days every year, where the local’s hospitality is routine and the famous Greek gastronomy approaches the peak of traditional tastes?

Read more about Rhodes cycling events 2019

Feedback