Tropical Storm-Like Medicane Hits Greece

September 29, 2018, 8:24 AM EDT

Above: MODIS visible satellite image of a Medicane located to the southwest of Greece on Saturday morning, September 29, 2018. Image credit: NASA Worldview.

A deep area of low pressure with tropical storm-like characteristics that formed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Thursday night made landfall in the southwest Peloponnese of Greece on Saturday, with the center crossing just west of Kalamata. The pressure fell as low as 989.3 mb in Kalamata near 12Z Saturday as the center passed, with sustained 10-minute average winds of 34 mph and a peak wind gust of 55 mph recorded at 12:20Z. In the Greek islands, sustained tropical storm-force winds of 41 mph (10-minute average) with gusts as high as 55 mph were measured at Strofades between 9Z – 9:30Z, and sustained 10-minute average winds of 46 mph were measured at Rodos at 7:20Z. The twitter feed is showing a video of a waterspout that moved over land from the Medicane. A PWS in Pylos recorded 2.54” of rain and a peak wind gust of 54 mph. A PWS in Voutsaras recorded 4.35” of rain and a peak wind gust of 65 mph.

Medicane winds
Figure 1. ASCAT image of Saturday’s Medicane, showing peak winds of 40 – 45 knots (45 – 50 mph, purple barbs) off the southwest coast of Greece. Image credit: NOAA.

The Mesoscale discussion from Estofex, the European Storm Forecast Experiment, had this to say about the storm:

The intensity estimate now suggests a Dvorak T4.0 number of 4.0 and a central pressure of 987 mb, as well as marginal hurricane wind speed of 33 m/s (65 kt). At 12 UTC Kalamata, a little north of the centre, reported a pressure of 989 mb, which corroborates this intensity estimate. Near hurricane-force winds are affecting the far southern Peleponnese and the Cyclades. Torrential rainfall is expected to be the most important hazard though. Severe flash floods with possible landslides are possible, particular in Southeastern Peloponnese, Attica, Euboia, and Eastern Thessaly where 100-300 mm storm totals are expected. These amounts are forecast for other regions:

Central and Eastern Makedonia: 80-160 mm
Western and Central Peloponnese, Central Greece, Southern and Western Crete, Turkish coastal regions from Kash until Canakkale: 30-100 mm
Cyclades: 30-60 mm

Additionally, storm surge of 1 to 1.5 m are likely on the Peloponnese coast.

Finally, there is a risk of tornadoes in the northeast quadrant of the cyclone, where long curved low-level hodographs are present, primarily affecting southern Peloponnese and Attica.

This storm formed over waters with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of around 27°C (81°F), and was classifiable as an extratropical storm initially. The system spent enough time over warm waters, though, that it developed a warm core and began using the heat energy of the ocean as its primary energy source, becoming a hybrid storm that was not fully tropical nor extratropical (phase space diagrams from Florida State University suggest that the Medicane was not fully tropical). These type of storms in the Mediterranean are called “Medicanes” due to their hurricane-like structure, but they are weaker than a hurricane.

The Medicane is expected to move east-northeast along the south shore Greece’s Peloponnese on Saturday, bringing sustained winds near 30 - 35 mph over the ocean and 20 - 25 mph inland. By Sunday, the storm will weaken due to land interaction and cooler SSTs, and turn more to the northeast, affecting western Turkey. The greatest danger from the storm is heavy rain. According to Severe Weather Europe, recent model runs predict 4 – 6” of rain along the track of the storm, through southern Greece and into extreme western Turkey.

Thanks go to all the WU commenters that posted about this storm; I included a number of them in this post.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

Dr. Jeff Masters co-founded Weather Underground in 1995, and flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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