Khamsin

picture Location: Egypt and E Mediterranean

The Khamsin is an oppressive, hot, dry and dusty south or south-east wind occurring in N. Africa, around the E Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula intermittently in late winter and early summer, but most frequently between April and June. A counterpart of the sirocco , it is a southerly wind over Egypt blowing from the Sahara Desert and an easterly over the Negev Desert and parts of Saudi Arabia. The term is also applied to very strong southerly or south-westerly winds over the Red Sea.


Like the sirocco, the khamsin is usually blowing ahead of depressions which move eastward or north-eastward in the Mediterranean Sea or across N. Africa, with high pressure to the east. The name is derived from the Arabic, khamsun or hamsin, meaning fifty, for the approximate period of days during which it blows. Less frequently the khamsin might also occur in winter as a cold, dusty wind. In other parts of N Africa and the Mediterranean similar winds are variously known as sirocco , ghibli and leveche.