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Trade Winds and Low Pressure System from Middle East and Northern Africa Causes Rain for Sunny Cyprus

December 12, 2019
NOAA-20 capture of an unusual westerly trade wind flow in Northern Africa, Dec. 11, 2019.

On Dec. 11, 2019, NOAA-20 captured this image of an unusual westerly trade wind flow in Northern Africa. This pattern was caused by northwesterly winds from Saudi Arabia and a low pressure system from Libya and Egypt colliding over the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. For the next few days, weather conditions in Cyprus will be stormy and rainy before becoming sunny on Monday morning.

January and February, the coldest times of year for Cyprus, are also closely associated with the wet season that runs from November to February. According to Cyprus’ Met Office, December, which is typically the rainiest month, yields a little less than 3 inches of rain on average each year in the capital city of Nicosia. However, the Met Office issued a yellow alert on Dec. 11 for the following day, stating that “rain and at times isolated thunderstorms are expected to affect the area…[with an excess of] 2 inches of rain in a six-hour period.” The bulletin also warns of flooding that could disrupt outdoor activities or cause difficulty with driving. For a place as idyllic as Cyprus, a little rain does spoil the parade there and may affect tourism, commerce and migration that would otherwise occur.

This image was captured by the NOAA-20 satellite's VIIRS instrument , which scans the entire Earth twice per day at a 750-meter resolution. Multiple visible and infrared channels allow it to detect atmospheric aerosols, such as dust, smoke and haze associated with industrial pollution and fires. The polar-orbiting satellite circles the globe 14 times daily and captures a complete daytime view of our planet once every 24 hours. Images taken by the VIIRS sensor during each orbit are then merged together to create image mosaics of larger regions, like the one used here.