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Navigation Conditions in the Mediterranean SeaThe Mistral
The Mistral is a dry and cold regional wind blowing at an average speed of 25 knots gusting to 50 knots during the day. This northerly wind blows in a northwesterly direction around Marseille, and from the west on the Mediterranean Coast and Corsica. This regional wind is often stronger in the winter and spring and can last several days. The Mistral usually comes up after the passage of a cold and rainy front all over France from the North West to the South East, and reaching the Mediterranean area.The Tramontane
The Tramontane is a strong, cold wind from the west-north-west, passing by the Pyrenees and the mountains of southern Massif Central.Quite similarly to the Mistral wind, it can get up in all seasons but more strongly in winter and spring, and with gusts of wind reaching 50 knots.The weather pattern triggering the Tramontane is comparable to the one bringing the Mistral:
- an area of high pressure reaching Spain and Southwest France,
- a north-north-westerly airstream (often in the form of a cold front) bringing cold air towards the Mediterranean regions, between this high pressure zone to the west and a depression in the Gulf of Genoa or the Tyrrhenian Sea to the east.
This warm, moist southeasterly wind blows over the whole Mediterranean area and generally brings heavy rain. It is strong, steady, sometimes severe, and comes up more frequently in the spring and autumn. It absorbs the moisture when passing over the Mediterranean and then returns it in the form of greyness (low clouds, mists, fogs) and rain, on the heights bordering the sea: the south-eastern sides of the Montagne Noire, the Corbières, the foothills of the Cévennes and the first Provençal heights.
When the Marin wind is not accompanied by rain, people call it “Marin blanc” (white Marin).
This northeasterly wind blows over the region of Provence, French Riviera, Languedoc-Roussillon and Corsica. It is a cold and dry wind in Corsica and Provence. However, when it comes into contact with the Mediterranean Sea, it becomes moist and brings rain (or even snow during cold winter spells) to the French Riviera, Roussillon and Aude.The Levant
This easterly wind blows over the Southern Alps and the Mediterranean coast to Corsica. It can be moderate to severe but is generally light and moist, and is associated with a cloudy sky and rainy weather. It blows very often at the end of the autumn season, in winter and spring. In Provence, the Levant sometimes comes up when it is sunny and people then call it “Levant blanc” (white Levant). The Levant tends to get up when there is a depression over the Bay of Biscay and a high-pressure zone over Eastern Europe.The Libeccio
The Libeccio is a southwesterly wind blowing over the French Riviera and Corsica. This wind is hot and dry when blowing over the French Riviera. In Corsica, in summer, it is generally dry, whereas in winter, it picks up moisture and causes rain or even thunderstorms. Coming from the west over the southern part of Corsica, it becomes a southwesterly wind in Balagna and on the western Cap Corse due to the orientation of the topography. The Libeccio is very strong and quite warm in Bastia.
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