Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:59 PM GMT on May 11, 2005
If you're the owner of a Volkswagen Bora, Sirocco, or Passat, you own a wind. That's right, these are all names of winds. The bora (see photograph below) is a wind that originates high in cold mountain areas. The cold, dense air flows downward under the force of gravity and warms according to the Ideal Gas Law, but is so cold so start with, that it remains much colder than the air at the base of the mountains. The bora is a scourge of the Adriatic Sea, blowing for 40 or more days a year, closing railroads and forcing ships in Trieste, Italy to flee for shelter further south.
The passat is a German term for a trade wind. And the sirocco (Arabic for 'easterly'), a springtime wind that brings hot, dusty air from the Sahara and Arabian Peninsula, has a positively evil repuation, according to Lyall Watson's excellent book, "Heaven's Breath: A Natural History of the Wind". The book quotes a traveler from England who encountered a sirocco in the 1800's: "The sirocco has now blown for these six days without intermission; and has indeed blown away all our gaiety and spirits; and if it continues much longer, I do not know what may be the consequence. It gives a lassitude, both to the body and mind, that renders them absolutely incapable of performing their usual functions." The book goes on to quote extensive medical research on the sirocco's negative effect on people in Israel. More than one third of the Israeli population experience an adverse reaction to the wind.
Since Volkwagen doesn't seem to have any concerns about naming their vehicles after evil winds, I have a suggestion for their next vehicle name: the Bad-i-sad-o-bist-roz, named after the dreaded Iranian and Afghanistanian 'wind of one hundred and twenty days'. This wind blows constantly for 120 days, June through September, and was described by Lord Curzon as "the most vile and abominable in the universe'. This hot, dry wind, laden with dust and salt, buries entire farms and villages in its relentless march across the desert.
Naturally, the Bad-i-sad-o-bist-roz would have to be one bad SUV. It would come only in black, have dark tinted windows, armor plating to help it take out any economy cars it might meet in a crash, a 500 Watt stereo system, and get about 6 miles per gallon. In short, the most vile and abominable vehicle in the universe.
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