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"cold northerly wind on the Mediterranean coast of France," c.1600, from French, from Provençal mistral, literally "the dominant wind," from mistral (adj.) "dominant," from Latin magistralis "dominant," from magister "master" (see master (n.)).
cold and dry, strong wind in southern France that blows down from the north along the lower Rhone River valley toward the Mediterranean Sea. It may blow continuously for several days at a time, attain velocities of about 100 km (60 miles) per hour, and reach to a height of 2 to 3 km. It is strongest and most frequent in winter, and it sometimes causes considerable damage to crops. The velocity of the wind is intensified as it blows down from the highlands to the coast and by the "jet effect" that results as it is funneled through the narrow Rhone valley.