'Medicane' wreaks havoc in Greece as torrential rainfall, angry seas and winds batter region

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Robert Richards, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 30, 2018, 10:11:57 AM EDT

A rare phenomenon is expected to bring a period of heavy rain and strong winds to southern Greece and western Turkey on the final day of September.

A medicane is a rare, tropical-like cyclone that forms in the Mediterranean Sea whose formation is similar to that of a subtropical system in the Atlantic Ocean. Medicanes are typically small cyclones with a short lifespan.

medicane vis imagery 9/28

Visible satellite imagery of the eastern Mediterranean at 13:45 UTC, Sep. 28, 2018 via the Naval Research Laboratory.

These cyclones originate from non-tropical systems that feed off the warm waters of the Mediterranean and take on tropical characteristics.

Unlike a subtropical storm in the Atlantic, medicanes are not named.

Regardless, this medicane will still bring adverse impacts to southern Greece and western Turkey into Monday.

In Athens, toppled trees and power lines caused power outages on Friday as the storm approached, according to The Associated Press. Schools were closed throughout the capital while airline and ferry service delays mounted.

AP greece 9/28

A man goes to secure his boat due to bad weather at the port of Rafina, east of Athens, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Severe weather warnings remain in effect around Greece, halting ferry services and prompting school closures. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Rounds of rain will spread across these areas into the first day of October. Some of the rain will pour down heavily at times, which can trigger flash flooding and mudslides.

"At this time, the heaviest rain is expected to fall on the northern and western side of Crete, as well as the other southern Greek islands and southwestern coast of Turkey," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys. "In these areas, there can be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 200 mm (8 inches)."

Most of this rain will fall Saturday night into early Monday. It is also at this time when these areas will face strong winds.

Greece weather center
Turkey weather center
What you should do if you get stuck driving in floodwaters

"There can be widespread gusts of 95 km/h (60 mph) across coastal Crete into southwestern Turkey," Roys said. "Gusts to 130 and 145 km/h (80 and 90 mph) cannot be ruled out across the southern coast of Crete and the southwestern coast of Turkey."

Such winds can down trees and damage weak structures. Power outages can occur, while travelers may face disruptions.

If the storm tracks more to the north than currently expected, the zone of the heaviest rain and strongest winds will also follow suit.

The winds will stir dangerously rough waters across the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

9/30 Medicane

"Seas this weekend can build to 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) south of Crete and the waters offshore of southwestern Turkey," Roys said. "Some of the highest seas can reach 7 meters (22 feet)."

Winds driving those waters onshore can lead to moderate coastal flooding at the south-facing coastal communities.

Away from Crete and southwestern Turkey, downpours can lead to more localized flooding across southern Greece, western Turkey and coastal Bulgaria into Monday.

Even if flash flooding does not ensue in Athens and Istanbul, downpours can trigger flight delays and slowdowns on roads. Drivers will face reduced visibility and a heightened risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds.

Beyond Monday, the exact track of the medicane will determine whether rain aims at Ukraine or Russia’s Volga Region.

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