Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who is Orkan?

Towards the end of last week and over the weekend there was quite a big storm bearing down on the northwestern German Coastline. It was a very large winter storm that also effected most of the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to name a few.

It was such a strong winter storm that they named it, Xaver.

It didn't actually hit Germany until late Friday night, but all week, the news shows were all over it. Talking about the path of the storm, the conditions that helped form it, what to expect from it. The normal procedure for covering a huge storm, except they kept talking about Orkan. (Orkan by the way is a Turkish name) Who is Orkan, and what is the big deal?

der Orkan -  a severe fall/winter wind storm specific to Europe.

So it has nothing to do with a Turkish guy at all?! Ah! Now that makes way more sense.

The word itself comes from the Spanish word 'huracàn' which means hurricane. Orkan use to refer to all kinds of big wind storm; Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Typhoons etc. However nowadays it is used more specifically for, a European Windstorm. European Windstorms are extra-tropical (non-tropical) and cyclonic in nature, low pressure systems with winds starting at 64kn. They occur in late fall and the winter months.

Here are more words related to Orkan: Who would have thought the Weather could be so much fun?!

der Wirbelsturm - windstorm, whirlwind, storm, cyclone

der Wirbel - curl, swirl, twirl, whirl

der Hurrikan - hurricane, a tropical windstorm

der Taifun - typhoon, a tropical windstorm (specifically in the northwest Pacific region)

der Zyklon - cyclone, a tropical windstorm (specifically in the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific)

Here is a news clip from Euronews (auf Deutsch).


In this video the Reporter call 'Xaver' an Orkantief which is an intense low-pressure storm system. Here Tief is a noun. (Bonus Word for us!). Orkantief seems to be interchangeable with Orkan and just emphasises the low-pressure characteristic.

das Tief - depression or low pressure (both Meteorology terms)

tief - deep, low, profound

It is also important to be specific with the pronunciation of Orkan. I kept putting the emphasis on the 'Or'. Which is wrong!! With the emphasis on the first syllable, you say the name 'Orkan.' To mean the storm, the emphasis has to be on the on the 'kan'.

So far I am terrible at this, I have to say the word split up to get it right. Good luck!


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