The weather in the Balearic Islands
Weather in the Balearic Islands is perfect for sailors as it offers maximum comfort in terms of temperature and humidity.
The climate in the Balearic Islands is a powerful magnet for anybody and specially for sailors.
The privileged location of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean determines that climate is temperate with hot but bearable summers occasionally reaching peak heat, although this does not occur excessively. Winters are mild with rare episodes of truly sharp cold. The regulating effect of the sea round the islands guarantees this.
Bear in mind the commonly repeated phrase that says that round these islands one may sail 300 days a year, and even a few more. This is not an exaggeration, specially if you sail along the southern bays and coastlines.
Humidity varies moderately throughout the year and is usually in the range of 70% , so the islands are considered a privileged area of maximum climatic comfort.
The fact is that the islands are obviously spots of land surrounded by water, creates a special relation between the islands and thermal winds, that is to say, winds which have an effect on the islands (and are caused by the very existence of the islands) and which act independently of climatic winds which are not subject to variation by cause of the islands' location. The dynamics are simple: when the earth surface of the islands is warmed by the sun, winds blow from the sea towards the land, and when the temperatures drop at night the winds blow the other way round.
The Balearic Islands are a kind of wind factory producing steady winds suitable for sailing. However, this situation varies whenever cold winds coming from afar prevail over local winds, which is very unusual in summer. Careful attention to this type of situation is required. For instance, the cold winds that come from the Gulf of León tend to bring the worst storms. On occasions, the northern part of Minorca and Majorca as well as the channels between islands, can become a very rough area for sailing. On the other hand, the bay of Palma is special because although winds are strong, the coastline prevents heavy swell from taking place thereby delighting sailors in search of high-speed sport sailing conditions.
The eastern coastlines can present further sailing difficulties when hit by strong winds coming from the area of Sardinia.
When winds come from afar and travel in the direction of the coastline, wave size increases as evidently these waves come from the high seas. The same happens on the southern coastline when winds blow from Africa although these rarely cause harsh storms.
The effect of local winds also creates special situations depending on temperature changes and can sometimes help us sail along the fearsome north-western coast of Majorca. It is quite normal for the colder temperatures of the Majorcan mountain range to cause a thermal difference between the sea and land, which leads to gentle breezes. We can therefore find ourselves sailing on a "mirror" of calm waters in an area where the harshest storms occur. To experience this, pay close attention to the weather forecast.
If the winter sun warms the land enough to neutralize winds from afar, but does not at the same time warm the land enough to cause sea-to-land winds, a special condition called "January calm" occurs. Whenever this condition occurs, December, January and February allow sea fans to enjoy wonderful kayaking and water-skiing.
The bay of Palma is considered one of the best sailing areas in the Balearics, specially in summertime. "Embat", a local thermal wind is greatly appreciated and famous among regatta competitors coming from all over the world. It starts blowing at noon, reaches a force of between 3 and 4, and tapers off progressively as the sun goes down.
Minorca has the roughest weather conditions in terms of sailing due to the north winds which hit it full on. The southern position of Formentera and Ibiza ensures that these islands have the mildest weather conditions.