Sanders, Frederick Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A southerly or southeasterly wind current from the Sahara or from the deserts of Saudi Arabia which occurs in advance of cyclones moving eastward through the Mediterranean Sea. The sirocco is most pronounced in the spring, when the deserts are hot and the Mediterranean cyclones are vigorous. It is observed along the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea from Morocco to Syria as a hot, dry wind capable of carrying sand and dust great distances from the desert source. The sirocco is cooled and moistened in crossing the Mediterranean and produces an oppressive, muggy atmosphere when it extends to the southern coast of Europe. Rain that falls in this air is often discolored by the dust or sand which is precipitated along with the waterdrops. Under sunny conditions, the sirocco can produce temperatures in excess of 100°F (38°C) in southern Europe. Various other names are used to denote the sirocco in specific localities, such as khamsin in Egypt. See also: Air mass; Wind
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