The meltemi wind is the driving force here at Keros. It gets our sails and kites going and puts smiles on our faces. It keeps the temperatures down during the day, makes evenings pleasant, and makes sure that everyone is having FUN on the water.
But what kind of wind is it? Where does it come from and how is it created?
Meltemi winds were known in ancient Greece as ‘etesians’ and were first documented by Aristoteles in his work ‘Meteorologica’. ‘Etos’ meaning ‘year’, so the name actually refers to a summer, yearly phenomenon. The word ‘meltemi’ that is used in modern times is said to be derived from the Italian phrase ‘mal tempo’, which means ‘bad weather’. They probably were not windsurfers or kitesurfers when they named it! Etesians were very important for commerce and transport.
How is the meltemi created?
The meltemi wind comes down from Bosphorus, blowing across most of the Aegean. In order for any wind to occur, there needs to be a difference in atmospheric pressure, whether it is local (thermic wind) or wide range (meltemi, sea breezes etc).In our situation, summer heat and humidity builds up over Turkey and the Middle east. At the same time, a ‘good weather’ high pressure system sits over the Balkans, creating a barometric difference between these two regions, hence, over the Aegean.
Meltemi at Keros
Limnos is located at the beginning of the meltemi path, starting from Bosphorus and going all the way down to Crete. Hence, it’s behaviour is a bit different than in the Cyclades. Here at Keros, the meltemi shows up in the morning, usually from 8:30,, peaking between 11.00 and 14.00. This is when all the advanced riders have their fun.
After 15:00 in the afternoon, the wind starts to shift offshore, and drops down a bit. This provides a perfect terrain for beginner windsurfing or wing lessons, or hydrofoiling. This also provides a wind shadow on the beach, making it pleasant for non-wind/kitesurfers, making it fun for the whole family.
The meltemi wind shows up in June, in lower wind strengths, usually between 12-20 knots. But you can of course get stronger days. In July and August, the metlemi is usually between 15-25 knots. Kitesurfers usually ride kites between 8m and 10m, whereas windsurfers use sails between 4.7m and 6.0m. For Wingfoiling, a 4.5m wing is probably the most used size.
We usually get 65-75 days out of the 90 days in summer months, with wind strengths above 12 knots. The meltemi usually shows up for 4-5 days, drops down for a few days, and shows up again. Though, it is not uncommon to see 35-40 windy days in a row. The longest meltemi we remember here at Keros is 58 days in a row! On the down side, if it is a strange season, you might get a week or more without any wind. But this is the situation all over Greece. If there is no meltemi, there is not meltemi in the whole Aegean sea.
You can get meltemi also in the beginning of September. From September on and throughout winter, you still get NE winds, usualy stronger, but it is not called meltemi because it is not a ‘summer’ system driven by heat in the middle east. From September on, you can also get South winds at Surf Club Keros, which provide nice, warm, steady winds, and some fun waves.