Weather Notebook
Bryan Yeaton

Middle East Winds
Thu May 15, 2003

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Hi, I'm Bryan Yeaton for The Weather Notebook. As winds of war blow across the Middle East, our attention has often been focused on the winds of weather that have played an important role in the conflict.

Wind is a major force in Middle East weather which has a strong monsoon character. "Monsoon" originally referred to changes in seasonal wind patterns and derives from the Arabic word "mausim," simply meaning "season." During the summer monsoon, winds generally blow toward the hot interior of the Arabian Peninsula.

For example, the north/northwesterly "Bad-I-Sad-O-Bist-Roz" wind blows into Iran in June and persists for as long as a 120 consecutive days.

Some Middle East winds stir large, disrupting sand and duststorms. In fact, the alluvial plains of Iraq and Kuwait have the highest duststorm frequency in the Middle East.

Hot, dry desert winds have been given special names across the Middle East. For example, in the summer monsoon, the northwesterly Shamal blows over Iraq and into the Persian Gulf. The Egyptian Khamsin wind literally means "lasting 50 days."

The Sirocco, an Arab word for "Easterly," is a hot, dry, dusty desert wind blowing across the region and often into Europe. It is also known as the Sharkiye in Jordan, Sharav in Israel, and Simoom in Arabia. The dusty Seistan north wind in eastern Iran can reach hurricane force.

Not all Middle East winds are unwelcomed. A west wind of Arabia named the Laawan, "the helper," assists farmers in winnowing their grain.

Thanks to our contributing writer, meteorologist Keith Heidorn. Our show is underwritten by Subaru of America and The National Science Foundation.

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