Williwaw

picture Location: Strait of Magellan and Aleutian Islands

Williwaw is the name for a sudden violent, cold, katabatic gust of wind descending from a mountainous coast of high latitudes to the sea and are most common n the Strait of Magellan or the Aleutian Islands.


The term williwaw is of Native American origin which refers to a strong erratic gust of wind and the effects of a williwaw gust are a constant danger for any vessel trying to sail around Cape Horn:


picture Then there are those famous katabatic winds or "williwaws," which can wreak havoc in short order. If you feel sudden rises in temperature - beware. This is an air parcel coming down from the mountains and is in compression. In its most violent manifestation ( a williwaw) it can dump over high land spilling out onto the water at well over 120 knots whipping up the water into a white frenzy.


They are also known as the Alskan winds. However, similar gusts with many local names do occur at many high latitude coasts from Siberia to Patagonia.