Zhivago winds / Viento Zhivago

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

MANY SPANIARDS (AND NON-SPANIARDS) KNOW the Spanish winds by name. I do not. I’ve tried but never remember them. In one of San Geraldo’s Spanish courses, he learned the winds and told me about them at the time. When the wind picked up the other day, I asked SG which wind it was. “Zhivago,” he said. “Zhivago?” I asked. “Zhivago,” he repeated. “When the winds blow like this, it reminds of the scenes in Doctor Zhivago when the harsh winds blew the snow across the great expanse.” OK… That was not helpful.

SG then admitted he couldn’t remember the names of all the Spanish winds nor which was which. So here are the top seven. Please remember them, so I know where to go next time (because I will not remember). Right now, the only one I remember is Zhivago.

  • Borrasco: A thunderstorm or violent squall, especially in the Mediterranean.
  • Levante: A hot south-easterly wind that blows over the Canary Islands.
  • Leste: A hot, dry, easterly wind of the Madeira and Canary Islands.
  • LevecheWarm wind in Spain, or a hot southerly wind in advance of a low-pressure area moving from the Sahara Desert. Called a Sirocco in other parts of the Mediterranean area.
  • Poniente: Normally a fresher westerly wind that blows in from the Atlantic along the south coast of Spain Can be quite strong in often keeps fishing fleets held up in the southern ports.
  • Sirocco: A warm wind of the Mediterranean area, or a hot southerly wind in advance of a low-pressure area moving from the Sahara or Arabian deserts [see Leveche].
  • Terral: A warm to hot wind that blows over the mainland from north to south, it picks up heat as it travels overland and can make for uncomfortably hot nights during summer months.

In case you’re wondering, that’s me in the photo at the age of 3 months. I imagine some of you have the same expression about now.


MUCHOS ESPAÑOLES (Y NO ESPAÑOLES) conocen los vientos españoles por su nombre. No. Lo he intentado, pero nunca los recuerdo. En uno de los cursos de español de San Geraldo, aprendió los vientos y me habló de ellos en ese momento. Cuando se levantó el viento el otro día, le pregunté a SG qué viento era. “Zhivago”, dijo. “¿Zhivago?” Yo pregunté. “Zhivago”, repitió. “Cuando los vientos soplan así, recuerda las escenas en Doctor Zhivago cuando los fuertes vientos arrastraron la nieve a través de una gran extensión”. OK… Eso no fue útil.

Luego admitió que no recordaba los nombres de todos los vientos españoles ni cuál era cuál. Así que aquí están los siete primeros. Por favor recuérdelos, así sabré adónde ir la próxima vez (porque no lo recordaré). En este momento, el único que recuerdo es Zhivago.

  • Borrasco: Tormenta o ráfaga violenta, especialmente en el Mediterráneo.
  • Levante: Viento cálido del sudeste que sopla sobre las Islas Canarias.
  • Leste: Viento cálido, seco y del este de Madeira y Canarias.
  • Leveche: Viento cálido en España, o un viento cálido del sur antes de un área de baja presión que se mueve desde el desierto del Sahara. Llamado Sirocco en otras partes del área mediterránea.
  • Poniente: Normalmente, un viento del oeste más fresco que sopla desde el Atlántico a lo largo de la costa sur de España puede ser bastante fuerte ya menudo mantiene a las flotas pesqueras detenidas en los puertos del sur.
  • Sirocco: Viento cálido del área mediterránea, o un viento cálido del sur antes de un área de baja presión que se mueve desde el Sahara o los desiertos de Arabia [ver Leveche].
  • Terral: Viento cálido a caliente que sopla sobre el continente de norte a sur, recoge calor a medida que viaja por tierra y puede provocar noches incómodamente calurosas durante los meses de verano.

En caso de que se lo esté preguntando, ese soy yo en la foto a la edad de 3 meses. Imagino que algunos de vosotros tenéis la misma expresión ahora.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

47 thoughts on “Zhivago winds / Viento Zhivago”

  1. So which wind was it? I’d guess Sirocco as it is the closest sounding to Zhivago, but then again I remember that dear SG sometimes gently mangles a word or two. So with your photo in mind, inquiring (puzzled) minds want to know?

    (Actually, your photo makes me think you were wondering why the hell they propped your chin up with your fist.)

    1. Mary:
      I have no idea which wind it was (nor does San Geraldo). Oh, that photo! Such a natural pose.

  2. So many languages and cultures name their winds, English pretty much doesn’t. The only one I can think of offhand is the American “Nor’easter”. There is a certain practicality in calling winds, e.g., a humid wind out of the southwest. More words, but you don’t have anything new to remember. BTW, your face hasn’t changed much since you were 3 mos. old.

    1. wickedhamster:
      I only knew Santa Ana winds on the west coast. As for my face, I know! I could shave my beard and I’d look identical.

  3. I knew that was you, even with the hair. (sings) that face, that face, that fabulous face…

  4. You know what I call wind? Wind. As in, that is a lot of wind blowing out there. Oooh, the wind just took out that tree! Good thing we have that built in generator, the wind just knocked out everyone’s power. The neighbors will be showing up with pitchforks and torches if this lasts too long! Or, back in the day, the wind just messed up Shirley’s ‘fro and that sucker never moves!
    Also, Santa Anas.

    1. Deedles:
      I’m with you… and Santa Anas. As for Shirley, I never saw what happened to HER fro, but Sharon had a huge fro that bounced when she blinked. In a strong wind, she was a hot mess. And after, it was a riot. You could name the wind based on her hair.

  5. Who knew winds had names?
    I mean, I know all about the Santa Ana’s in Southern California, but this is too much.
    Still, does a Zhivago wind sound like Lara’s Theme?

    1. Bob:
      I think the Zhivago wind might sound like Lara’s theme, but I can’t be sure because i can’t hear the theme over the wind. The only named wind I’ve ever known has been the Santa Ana’s.

  6. I had no idea wind had names? Who knew? I do know it’s been windy as he’ll here the last two days.

    1. MIstress Borghese:
      Have you heard about the Santa Ana winds (hot winds off the desert) in Southern California? Those were the only ones I ever head named before coming here. I’ve met locals here who know all the winds by name and character and don’t even think anything about commenting on them — as if I understand.

    1. Wilma:
      Moi?!? Never (as in never would I ever share a photo of that and admit it).

  7. I’d guess that most native English speakers are familiar with ‘sirocco’, the others less so – at least I didn’t,. [“Little Sirocco how do you do? – HELLO – hello – HELLO – hello”]

    Btw: Did you know that the expansive snow–covered panoramas in that film were shot In Finland, where such architectural remnants still survive from when that country was part of the Russian Empire? Most, or maybe all, of the Summertime flowery wide-open spaces were filmed in Canada.. [Sorry if that info destroys any illusions some might have of that powerful film].

    1. Raybeard:
      I had heard of sirocco winds, maybe from a film (Laurence of Arabia?). I never gave any thought to where the outdoor scenese were filmed. It’s no surprise they weren’t in Russia! But I had no idea of Finland and Canada. Will have to see if SG knew that.

      1. When you tell S.G. you’re pretty likely to get some response from him which should be eminently blog-able. If so, hope you’ll post it.
        Btw – the film was , of course, made in the Cold War era [which, arguably, we ought to be having again right now rather than us/America having cosied up to the Russkies over the last several years]. – and anyway when ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was released, writer Boris Pasternak had become ‘persona non grata’ in his home country and so, naturally enough, the film just had to be rubbished by the then Soviet regime.

      2. Raybeard:
        Sadly, no blog-able response. Although he didn’t know the details and enjoyed learning them, he DID know it wouldn’t have been filmed back in the USSR… you don’t know how lucky you are boy!

      3. [That Georgia’s always on ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mind]. Nowadays it’s always the American Georgia we’re reading and thinking about – and fuming over.

      4. Raybeard,
        Fuming about a lot of things American lately (and British for that matter). But Georgia has inspired some good songs.

  8. That picture of you is adorable! You look exactly the same now, albeit with more teeth and less hair. I wouldn’t remember the Spanish winds, but I like the sound of “Zhivago winds.”


    1. Janie:
      Zhivago does sound like a legitimate wind. I find it laughable how many people instantly recognize me from my baby pictures. I was cute then!

  9. That expression is priceless! I don’t think winds here in the UK have a name. Not that I’ve ever heard, anyway. As in Florida, the only name is the one given to any specific storm!

    Of your list, the only one I’ve heard of is Sirocco, and that’s because it’s also a car.

    1. Steve:
      I’m sure I must have learned about Sirocco winds in a film. The only named winds I knew before moving here were the Santa Anas in Southern California. That hot wind off the desert was usually very unpleasant.

    1. Debra:
      Oh, I always thought they were “Cold, Eh?” and “Fuckin’ Cold, Eh?” Thanks for the clarification.

  10. Who has seen the wind?
    Neither you nor I,
    But when the trees bow down their heads….
    The wind is passing by.

    ….a passing wind is not the same as passing wind…

    1. JSSW:
      I remember that from high school. Not the passing wind/wind passing thing, although that’s very true. It’s similar to the statement in Spanish that: Un vieja amiga no es, necesariamente, una amiga vieja.

    1. Wickedhamster:
      I’ve always known her as Mariah. I wonder if she’s called Maria here. It would make sense.

  11. The sirocco I knew about but the others no can’t say I had heard of them. But I like the Zhivago it has that je ne sais quoi in terms of wind and it is easy to slip into a conversation.

    1. larrymuffin:
      SG says a lot of things that are easily repeatable. I use the wrong words for many things thanks to his influence. Sugar substitutes here are called saccarina (for Saccharine). One evening, San Geralod, ad-libbed and called it Saccanaccarina. It was so catchy that I started saying it. I had heard of sirocco and knew it as a desert wind. Probably from Lawrence of Arabia!

  12. In France we have the Mistral and the Tramontane. Down south. I’ve felt what must be Zhivago winds up here where we live. Omar Sharif used to live in Paris.

    1. Urspo:
      Well, they’re Spanish. But some of the winds are only here. Unfortunately (for you) I left out the specifically Latin-American winds.

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