Thursday, 6 November 2008

Favonius at work

Yesterday morning, as I went out home at 6:45AM, with a scarf around my neck, I was welcomed by an incredibly warm November morning. Even though the Sun had not still risen, we might have had 18ºC! How was that possible? Is it because now, with Obama, it won't be cold in November anymore? ;)

No. It is the Alpenföhn, a unique wind effect that happens near the Alps. When an air mass has to rise to spring over a mountain range, water condenses and falls as rain on the windward side. Past the maximum elevation, the dry air "falls down" the slopes and raises temperatures by as much as 30ºC on the leeward valley.

(Picture taken from Wikimedia Commons)

The name Föhn comes from the Roman God Favonius, who personified the west wind. Later on, it went through Rhaeto-Romance favuogn and fuogn until it reached modern German as Föhn. Interestingly enough, a hair dryer is called Fön, without "h". I read that the name was registered as trademark by AEG on the 20s.

The Föhn is often associated with migraines and psychoses. A study by the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich claims that suicide and accidents increase by 10 percent during föhn winds in Central Europe. In fact, there is a Föhnkrankheit (Föhn sickness), which might be the perfect excuse to justify low performance on the job, excessive appetite or, simply, general apathy.

Other föhn wind examples around the world include the Chinook in the Rocky Mountains, North America, the Halny in the Carpathian Mountains, Eastern Europe, fogony and cierzo in the Pyrenees and viento del sur (southern wind) in Cantabria, northern Spain.

And I think I'm going to let it go for today, because, you know, there is Föhn today...

No comments: