Foehn: A Fall Wind

More blue sky! (See my last post!)

Autumn is definitely coming to an end here, but in September and October, and even early November we often have what is called Foehn weather. (I’ll explain Foehn in a minute.) In our area this means clear blue skies, dry air, and fantastic views to the south.

On the first November weekend, the south of Bavaria basked in sunshine and blue skies, while we were stuck in the fog again!

Here are some pictures taken at the end of September, on the hills above our village, when the mountain wind was strong enough to come as far north as the Danube. We enjoyed a couple of days of perfect Foehn weather; hot sun and a warm breeze…

Foehn is the name given here for a warm, dry, downward (or fall) wind that occurs when the weather system comes from the south across the Alps; warm, damp air is blown towards the wind side (south) of the mountains, where the air then rises. Since it is very heavy with moisture, rain then falls, and now the warm air is dry, cooler and lighter and continues to rise and cross the mountains. It then drops rapidly on the lee side (the north), warming up as it falls.  It can cause dangerous gusts and is often quite strong, but mostly it means good weather and clear skies for southern Bavaria. (Only a few days ago the mountains had Foehn again: 150 kmph winds up on the mountainsides and 17°C in the valleys!)

It is typical for autumn and spring weather, but can in fact happen at any time of year. If you’re skiing it can produce fantastic sunshine and warmth! Within a few hours the temperature can change tremendously, and many people are sensitive to this sudden rise in temperature and to the change from moist to very dry air. Symptoms are usually headaches, or slight dizziness. I feel it sometimes too, but usually I simply enjoy it! There is an adjective in the German language used to describe this sensitivity towards the weather; wetterfühlig.

Are you wetterfühlig? 😀

Are there particular weather patterns for autumn where you live?

43 thoughts on “Foehn: A Fall Wind

  1. Loved the post!

    Loved the Blue Skies too!

    We up here in the northeast corner of the US have very strange weather. No boring here! The weather of late is not so predictable though. It is like a Monkey Wrench (US saying for TROUBLE lol) has been thrown at our normal patterns .

    Autumn for us is usually warm days cooler nights. When we get our first frosts though this year we once again had hurricane come through, then a tropical storm man was Sandy Fierce, and a Earthquake! Now this is NOT NORMAL I was born and raised here what would be normal is for Sept. to have some pretty clear beautiful Blue Sky days, warm 50’s and 60’s F and 40’s come evenings Now we have had 90’s in September, and today November 12th it hit 70 degrees F and we played at the beach no this is not NORMAL hope our strange weather doesn’t get to you and ruin your beautiful Blue Skies

    • Nice for you to get some warmth in November too, but certainly odd! We’ve had a strange year weatherwise too – drought and heat in summer after such a bitter cold winter…global warming?

      • governments screwing with Mother Nature I fear the most 😦 I live here I wish they would all just GET ALONG!

        This week our Mountain areas in the Western part of US are getting lots of snow and I pray it doesn’t hit us in the east at NY and NJ people still have no homes 😦


  2. Where I live in Texas there hasn’t been much fall. It’s been summery. Usually the red oaks and some of the few other trees that turn gold and red, didn’t turn color this year. We had one cold
    “snap” and in a few places in central Texas it might have gotten to 32 degrees one night. Last evening a cold front arrived. The temp is expected to drop below freezing. In a day or so it generally warms back and so it see-saws back and forth a bit through out fall and winter. Our winters are not harsh. Lots of days some people wear shorts. Might even need to run air conditioning at times.

    I believe I am going to enjoy your blog a lot.

    • I can’t imagine not having a cold winter… it is just so normal for us here. But I would miss autumn and the colours. Thanks for commenting, and nice to meet you!

  3. Great photos! The chinooks we get here due to our location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains are the equivalent of your Foehn winds…and quite a few people are bothered when they occur. I know I often get headaches when a chinook rolls in! But there’s nothing like that gorgeous wind and sudden warmth when they arrive after long periods of cold and snow – they’re worth a little headache! 🙂

    • I’d heard of the Chinook wind, but didn’t really know what it is. Thanks Sheryl. I agree, if it means blue sky I’m happy to have a little headache or a dizzy spell too! LOL!

  4. This is so interesting, we have Chinooks which, like your Foehns, come on suddenly and are a hot dry wind. It forms an arched cloud in the sky to the west where it comes swooping down off the mountains. I wonder if there’s any similarity? Some people have headaches as well.

    • Hi Barbara, it IS interesting that so many miles away people have very similar weather patterns. We are about 130 miles from the alps, so it has to be a strong foehn to reach us.

  5. Oh, yes, I am very ‘wetterfühlig’!! Used to HATE the Föhn winds which always seemed to presage a nasty future . . . and as Barbara says, my Mom also used to get wild headaches at the time. As a child living in Southern Germany at the time, I just remember feeling CREEPY :)!

    • Oh dear, I can imagine if you suffer then it isn’t so pleasant. I do look forward to some clear skies though, and a warm wind is always better than a cold one! 😉

  6. I remember the Foehn! During that time, we could see the alps so clearly at the Starnbergersee and from high points in Munich. It was a treat. I never did experience any adverse symptoms from the Foehn–but I CAN predict rain, because I get congested when rain is coming. So I guess I am weather sensitive, and I’m very encouraged to know that there is German word to describe my condition. 😉

    • Hi Robin – good to hear from you! We sometimes even see the alps from near here if it’s foehn weather – 130 miles away! Interesting about predicting rain. Some people say they feel damp weather coming in their joints and bones, but I don’t notice that. (And the German language has wonderful words for all sorts of conditions and illnesses I’d never heard of before!) 😀

  7. Yup – when I lived in Varese (south of the Alps) Föhn meant rain. Now in Lausanne it means sunny, warm weather. And “hairdryer” in Swiss-French, who nabbed the idea from the Swiss-Germans and Germans.

    And for me, now and again it means a low-lying headache. For days… But I can live with that if it means a change from winter grey!

    • That’s interesting – I hadn’t thought about the fact that it means rain and not sun south of the Alps. I assumed the rain was just in the mountains. And yes, if I get a headache it’s just a barely noiceable nagging ache. Well worth some sunny weather. 😀

  8. Lovely photographs. Yes I am ‘wetterfühlig”, I just never knew there was a name for it. I rarely get a headache, so as soon as I feel one I know there will be thunder. The weather affects how I feel too!

    • Thundery weather often gives me a headache too. When I first came to Germany I would laugh to myself when people explained a headache or discomfort with “foehn weather”. Now I can sympathise! I have been told you only notice it after having lived in the region for a while.

  9. Your skies look interesting, our autumn weather has been good (for a gardener) we’ve had lots of rain but also lots of beautiful spring-like days with blue skies and warm sunshine. Autumn is the period when we should have rain and last year we didn’t. My mood changes with the weather, when I can be outside I’m happy, when I can’t I’m not. Christina

  10. Wow Cathy, the blue skies are lovely but it is THE OCEAN OF GRASS that makes my jaw drop! My dogs would love to run on that grass, heck I would roll around on it too 😀 Love your photos!

    • When our big dog was still fit enough we used to walk them up on these hills, and they would run and run and run! (So would I!) A joy to watch! Especially if the grass is tall in summer!

  11. Beautiful blue skies in those photographs!! While I am at peace with most weather that comes my way, I really don’t like wind. I dislike moving air to the point that I don’t like fans, car vents set to medium or high, and air conditioning. Give me calm, quiet air please. 🙂

    • This is typical in autumn… just a mile down the road it may be quite clear and sunny! Thanks for commenting Karen. I must take a look at your travels in Bavaria. 😀

  12. A most interesting post Cathy and a new to me wind – it would be fascinating to make a list of winds sometime. How does ‘Foehn’ translate into English? We just missed out experiencing the mistral when we were in Provence in September – not sure whether I am disappointed or pleased about it 🙂

    • Thanks Anna. Wikipedia says: The word Foehn comes from Latin (ventus) favonius, a mild west wind of which Favonius was the Roman personification. The German word “Fön”, pronounced the same way, means “hairdryer”.
      I’m not sure the mistral is very pleasant, as I think it’s cold isn’t it? Good thing you missed it!

    • Hi Donna. We also get a lot of fog at this time of year… the river/canal in the valley and the nearby Danube are the culprits! We are hoping it will clear early next week…

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