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Lake Balaton

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Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe situated in the middle of the Hungarian Trans-Danube territory in the western part of the country. The 77-km-length and the 14-km-width form a 600-squarekilometre-water surface. Tihany peninsula divides the lake in two parts, forming there a strait, - with about 1 km to sail it across – where you can find the deepest point of it, with 11 metres. This spot is known as the ’Tihany Well’ and it is caused by the periodical stream of the longitudinal movement of the water due to the E-W or W-E winds. The main axis of the lake lies approximately SW-NE.

The water deepness varies between 0.5 and 5 metres, the smaller one on the Southern shore, and it becomes 2 metres after a 600-1000 m distance. At the hilly Northern shore the deepness starts with about 1.5 and reaches the above mentioned 5 metres relatively soon.

Wave pattern

The wave pattern is very special. The short and relatively high waves are very rough when it blows. The wavelength is 3-4 metres, occasionally 6 metres but only in strong wind. The height of the waves is usually 1 metre but in strong wind it may reach 1.5 metres and the crests fall through. In very rare circumstances, over a wind speed 80 km/hour, the wave crests are taken away and the water starts to form a dusting steam which is very dangerous.
Due to the shallow water the lake warms up quite rapidly and in summer you can even enjoy 25 Celsius, while the air temperature is about 30-35 Celsius. In winter the frozen lake is an excellent ice-skating resort.

Wind

The prevailing wind direction 40-45% is N-NW, which means it is about perpendicular to the main axis of the lake. Its velocities vary statistically balanced in 10% 0-1.5; in 60% 1.5-8; and in 30% 8-14 m/s. The other wind directions are statistically balanced and specified by less than 8 m/s. However the hilly coastal formations with its deep valleys on the Northern shore can cause sudden changes both in strength and direction. Anyhow, it has to be noted that although Balaton is not see, during storms it could be very dangerous. To minimise the risk, from 1st of March to the end of October, there is a storm-warning service on the lake with flashing lights around it. In case of approaching storms the yellow light flashes 45 times in a minute and at an immediate storm hazard 90 times in a minute when bathers shall go to shore as soon as possible.

 

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