Greece – 1 Dead After Record Rainfall in Crete

The Greek island of Crete has experienced torrential rainfall and flooding for the second time in 7 days. Some areas of the island have now recorded over 1 metre of rain so far this month.

A weather front, known locally as “Oceanis” brought heavy rain, hail and strong wind to the island from 23 February, 2019.

Greek New Agency ANA-MPA said that authorities in Crete are searching for a man went missing on 24 February after his vehicle was swept away by flood water in Apokoronas municipality. A body has since been recovered.

Local reports say that emergency teams have rescued others from flood water and from vehicles trapped in landslides. Schools and roads have been closed.

According to Meteo.gr, Askifou in Chania recorded 596 mm of rain in 2 days between 23 and February. Sempronas, also in Chania, recorded 496 mm of rain during the storm, which is over 40% of its annual rainfall.

Wettest Month on Record

Hit by two storms, Crete has seen extreme levels of heavy rain during February. Some areas recorded around 400mm of rain between 12 and 17 February, brought by a storm known locally as Hionis. Four people died in the resulting flash flooding in Heraklion regional unit.

Askifou in Chania has now recorded 1,202mm of rain so far this month (to 26 February), breaking the record for the highest monthly rainfall total in Europe, according to Meteo.gr.

Malta, Croatia and Italy

The weather system also affected parts of Malta, which saw winds of up to 133km/h, Italy and Croatia.

In Malta, a combination of high waves, thought to be up to 5 metres, and storm surge flooded some coastal areas, in particular around Xemxija. The Times of Malta described the storm as “the worst since 1982”.

Quoting a statement from the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, the newspaper said the Civil Protection Department received and assisted in 486 calls in 48 hours during the storm. Fourteen people were evacuated in Sliema and 12 from two localities in Vittoriosa. No deaths or injuries have been reported.

Strong winds were also reported in parts of Croatia and Italy, where 7 deaths have been blamed on the storm, including four in Lazio, one in Campania and two in Sicily. One person is still missing in Sicily.

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Featured image; File photo for illustration. Credit: vic_206/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Flood Summary

Last updated: March 12, 2019
Event
Southern Europe, February and March 2019
Date
February 23 to March 2, 2019
Type
Coastal flood, Flash flood
Cause
Storm surge, Extreme rainfall
A weather system, known in Greece as Storm Oceanis, brought heavy rain to parts of the island of Crete from 23 February, causing flooding and landslides. The storm also caused some coastal flooding in Malta, with waves reportedly as high as 5 metres. Wind damage from the storm was also reported in Italy and Croatia.

A few days later Civil Protection in Greece declared (pdf) a state of emergency after severe weather, including heavy rainfall, affected the island of Euboea on 01 March. EU's DG-ECHO said that ground water floods have caused damages to buildings and infrastructure in several areas of Chalcis city.

Locations

A - Apokoronas, Crete, Greece (Greece)
B - Xemxija (Malta)
C - Chalcis (Greece)
D - Souda, Crete, Greece - Rainfall level 77.2 mm in 24 hours
E - Chania - Rainfall level 192 mm in 24 hours
F - Souda - Rainfall level 116.2 mm in 24 hours

Magnitude

Rainfall level
77.2 mm in 24 hours
Souda, Crete, Greece - February 25 to February 26, 2019
WMO figures
Rainfall level
192 mm in 24 hours
Chania - February 24 to February 25, 2019
NOA/meteo figures, as quoted by local media. Most of the total fell in 10 hours
Rainfall level
116.2 mm in 24 hours
Souda - February 25 to February 25, 2019
Hellenic National Meteorological Service Figures

Damages

Fatalities
1 person
Apokoronas, Crete, Greece - February 24 to February 25, 2019