There are a lot of Belgrade symbols, but what’s interesting is the fact that its citizens consider one of them to be the southeast wind blowing from the Carpathians – košava. This wind can be extremely strong, so it bends and knocks down branches, carries leaves and throws dust in your face, ruffles hair, and it’s not strange for it to “push” an adult with a little force if they get in its way.
Name košava comes from the phrase of the Turkish words “koš” which means fast and “hava” which means air. This name is local and is not used anywhere else, except in the former Yugoslavia. In the villages of the Moravica district, the old, forgotten word – ustoka is used.
This wind originates in Ukraine and from there it moves to the west. In our country, it starts blowing in the Đerdap gorge, so it’s often said that it comes from the Danube. It’s really a colloquialism that’s very melodic, even songs were written on the subject. Wind speed at the entrance to the gorge, around the fortress “Golubački grad”, is sometimes around 100 km/h, and at the Vršac airport, a speed of more than 150 km/h has been recorded.
From Đerdap it travels to Belgrade, Vojvodina and parts of Šumadija, and when it is extremely strong, it reaches eastern Slavonia. It is most intensive in southeastern Banat, which is why the area near Deliblato Sands was used to build a wind farm.
In Belgrade, košava is most felt along the Danube, on the stretch from Grocka to Zemun, but no matter how much it bothered the people of Belgrade, there is some “secret connection” between this wind and them. As if it’s “their own” wind that gives them the feeling they are home. These days, we are seriously struggling with wind squalls, and at the same time we are wondering how long it will last.
According to belief and tradition, košava blows an odd number of days, 1, 3, 7 or 21. But that is just a myth, there are no rules for how long the windy days will last. In reality, duration depends on the speed and length of the movement of the cyclone – a field of low air pressure, from the western Mediterranean to the east. One of the recorded cases is from 1953, when košava blew for 31 days continuously from October 11th to November 10th. This “fatal” date is getting close, but we sincerely hope that it will not gift as a month of this kind of windy weather.
Košava is also useful because it reduces pollution. When there is no wind, and when it’s foggy, harmful particles are floating in the air where their emission is high, and in Belgrade it certainly is. That is why when a strong wind blows, it blows apart those particles and purifies the air.
Because of all this, the people of Belgrade are “forgiving” to košava wind for cold and broken umbrellas, towels and bags that are happily idling in the whirlwind.
If you have yet to experience this side of Belgrade, head to the promenade from Ušće to Zemun. You’ll feel like you’re flying.