When I was in Gilbraltar a few years ago, several locals of both Spain and Gibraltar commented on the fact that the peninsula has a weather system distinct from the areas around it, and that the peninsula had an effect on the weather patterns of the surrounding areas (i.e. Spain & north-west Africa).

Gibraltar in twilight (licensed under the "licencia de Creative Commons (“attribution”)", source: http://www.consumer.es/web/es/medio_ambiente/fotografias/2006/07/14/153891.php)

enter image description here (licensed under the Creative Commons non-commercial attribution, no derivatives source: http://www.viajeros.com/fotos/gibraltar-puerta-de-europa/78590)

From the shape and size of Gibraltar the assertion by the locals seems plausible. Is there a meteorological phenomenon surrounding this mountain that affects the weather of Spain or North-west Africa?

Does this big 'ol rock, cast as a Pillar of Hercules, change the weather around it? It's a big rock, no doubt. But is it that big?

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microclimate
    – vartec
    Jul 29, 2011 at 14:58
  • I'm not sure how this question could be answered "No", whether we were talking about a mountain, or just a tall tree. Both have their microclimates: They divert wind, are cooler in the shade & affect where rain lands. Both can affect global weather: the chaos effect suggests it takes very little. This suggests to me the question isn't well-formed. What are you skeptical about?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 29, 2011 at 15:32
  • 1
    @Oddthinking: Perhaps the title should be edited to reflect the actual question? :) Jul 29, 2011 at 16:20
  • 1
    I was/am reading it as having two claims: 1) the island has a weather system distinct from the areas around it, 2) the island had an effect on the weather patterns of the surrounding areas. The first I was calling a microclimate, after @vartec. Sounds like the second one is the key one you are interested in, and now you are clarifying it as "predictable" which seems fair.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 29, 2011 at 16:26
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    btw. it's peninsula, not an island.
    – vartec
    Jul 29, 2011 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Only a partial answer, that will hopefully be helpful to someone else:

Workshop on “Unresolved issues in Mediterranean Sea Level” Palma de Mallorca, 30th May – 1st June 2011

Session 3

Mass changes in the nearby Atlantic or winds around Gibraltar can induce sea level changes in the whole basin.

This is not peer-reviewed, and it is about ocean currents, not atmospheric conditions, which I would have though would be closely related but, it says:

Recent efforts have been devoted to couple ocean and atmospheric models. However, we feel that there is still a lack of clear conclusions about the improvements lead by coupled models in front of forced models.

There is a strong wind weather pattern around Gibraltar called Viento de Levante, which was researched in 1952, but I can't see the actual paper :-(

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