Greek meteorologists have denied that there is a link between the deadly floods in western Attica and hurricane Numa that hit western Greece a few days later.
According to a statement released on Wednesday by the National Observatory in Athens, the floods that caused the deaths of at least 21 people were the result of a system of low pressure called Eurydice that appeared over Greece between 13 and 17 November.
The tropical-like cyclone; which was named Numa by the University of Berlin, or Zenon as it was named by the National Observatory of Athens, struck western Greece three days later on the 18th and 19th of November, and was unrelated to the tragic events that took place in Attica, the Observatory says.
Numa, previously thought by some as being responsible for the havoc caused near Athens, was a powerful storm known in scientific literature as ‘medicane’—a portmanteau of the words ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘hurricanes’.
Medicanes aren’t considered full-fledged tropical systems, since the waters of the Mediterranean aren’t extensive or warm enough to sustain a true hurricane.
However, recent studies suggest that medicanes will most likely follow the same pattern as tropical hurricanes, increasing in intensity due to climate change, says Dr Emmanouil Flaounas.
Speaking to the Greek Reporter, the meteorologist from the National Observatory of Athens says that “although the number of medicanes has remained more or less constant over the last decades, a trend of greater intensity appears to be forming in the future.”
“This is a result of climate change,” he said, where warmer Mediterranean Sea surface temperatures are expected in climate future projections.
Dr. Flaounas, who is conducting research on these storms in an EU-funded project called ExMeCy, says that the systematic observation of data from the satellites since the early 70s has established that on average two to three medicanes form each year.
Although not as powerful as tropical cyclones, these storms can bring heavy rainfall and high winds, causing billions of Euros in damage in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
“About once to three times per year, these cyclones may reach comparable intensity to a Category 1 hurricane,” explained Dr Flaounas. “They can cause a lot of damage and flooding.”
However, it is rather improbable to associate the tragic events at Attica to climate change, he adds.