A tropical-like cyclone called a “Medicane” – a Mediterranean hurricane – produced torrential rainfall and flash floods in southern Greece and western Turkey last weekend. Powerful winds and large waves also damaged parts of western Greece.
Medicane Zorba developed off the coast of Libya late last Thursday, then moved across the island of Crete by early Friday, making landfall just west of Katamala on the Peloponnese peninsula around midday.
Almost eight inches of rain fell in some locations with flash flooding in many areas on Saturday. Several waterspouts were reported, as well as tornado damage in southern Greece in Askeli-Poros.
There is no known significant damage to ships anchored at ports, but there were reports of people trapped in vehicles in flood waters and power outages in the town of Pylos in Greece.
According to The National Herald, around 15,000 refugees are housed in camps on several Greek islands, but it’s not known at this time if any of them were moved to sturdy, temporary shelters during the storm.
For a couple days Zorba cut off ferry services from Athens to the islands as well as service between the islands, and airline flights were grounded due to strong winds.
A 27-year-old man and a middle-aged couple went missing from the island of Evia, according to state TV. The Athens fire brigade tweeted on October 1 that it found the young man but are still searching for the couple.
Greece is an epicenter for the world’s olive oil production with around 30 million olive trees across the country. So far there have been no reports of any orchards/farms that have been damaged by wind or flooding.
While Medicanes can do a lot of damage, their winds don’t usually reach hurricane strength. They differ from Atlantic hurricanes in a few other ways: 1) They can develop in cooler waters less than 80°, but Atlantic systems usually need temperatures above 80°. 2) According to a study from 2011 they occur one to two times a season, compared to the average 6 hurricanes per year from 1968-2015, according to NOAA.. 3) Medicane season is from fall into winter, but Atlantic storms season is from summer into early fall.
According to Severe Weather Europe, surface temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea were above normal before Zorba hit the area. Now the waters are cooler than average for October because of strong upwelling of deeper, cooler water caused by the storm.