Bura and Jugo: the Story of Dalmatian Winds

If you are traveling to Dalmatia, it’s important to understand the wind. Many Dalmatians believe the winds affect mood, health, food production and may even motivate you to commit a crime. The two winds to know in Dalmatia are Bura and Jugo, which represent the northern and southern winds respectively.

The Bura Wind

In Croatia, the  wind Bura is another word for fierce, just like Boreas character from the Greek mythology. Boreas was the God of winter and the north wind. He fell in love with the Athenian princess Orithyia. Unhappy that his charms got him nowhere, Boreas became angry, kidnapped Orithyia and made her to be his wife.  A real charmer, that Boreas.

The Fierce Force

Even today, the Bura Wind (also known as Bora) can be violent, sometimes bringing gale force that closes the highways, keeps sailors and ferries at harbor, rips trees from their soil and blows tiles from rooftops.  It is a wind that can reach a speed of up to 220 km/h (136 miles per hour).

Bura comes from the north, catapulting over the Mt. Velebit out to the Adriatic sea. It’s a dry cool wind, which is why it can be freezing on a sunny cloudless day. If the sun is out and you’re freezing to death, that’s bura. It’s most common in winter, but can happen at any time of the year.

There are two types of Bura, light and dark. ‘Light Bura’, is more typical and it’s accompanied with the clear skies. Then every so often there is a ‘dark bura’, which, go figure is characterized by dark clouds gathering on the hilltops, moving towards the sea and bringing rain.

Sunset view from the Importanne Hotels & Resort in Dubrovnik

Cleaning the Skies, Clearing the Mind

In Dalmatia, the sky cloggs with a haze thus making the islands barely visible.  Bura comes in and wipes the sky clean. The Bura wind is known for not only ‘cleaning’ out the skies, but in the aftermath of the storm, people feel better, physically and emotionally, almost as if their heads had got cleared too.
March Bura – It is said that if Bura blows three times in March, then summer will be hot and stable.

The Jugo Wind

Jugo is a moist wind, typically accompanied by dark clouds and rain-filled storms. It blows from the south, coming over the islands and onto the shore.

Since Dalmatians tend to be sun-loving people, they are not fond of Jugo. Jugo causes depression, body pain and grumpiness. In this unique part of the world, Jugo is always an acceptable excuse for this melancholic behavior. At a certain time in history, people that have been accused of committing a crime during Jugo winds, often used Jugo as a justifying factor for their legal defense. 

Depending on who you talk to in Dalmatia, you can often hear tell-fabled stories of people getting away with murder by using the Jugo as a defense argument. During the time of Dubrovnik Republic, originally named the Republic of Ragusa, a special law was in place.  The law stated that whenever the Jugo or Sirocco blew, no Council session or decisions or laws were allowed to take place.  Even the crimes committed during heavy southerly winds were treated with more leniency. Luckily those times are over.

A view from the promenade on Lapad Peninsula near Importanne Resort Dubrovnik

Tereza Buconić, a famous croatian author has summed up the Jugo story and has written: “if one can’t even like at himself when Jugo is blowing, how can we expect him to make a decision about another ?”