The weather system “Ianos,” which had reached the sea region between Sicily and the Peloponnesian Peninsula early on Thursday is beginning to intensify and taking on the characteristics of a Mediterranean hurricane, or “Medicane,” the meteo service of the Athens National Observatory said.
The atmospheric pressure at the center of Ianos was approximately 1,000 hPa and is expected to drop to 990 hPa by Thursday evening, while the winds, according to several satellite estimates, had reached speeds of 65 km per hour (40 miles per hour) or up to 8 on the Beaufort scale.
According to the latest forecast, Ianos will move in the direction of the central Ionian Sea and northwestern Peloponnese, arriving early on Friday, but its subsequent course remains unknown, with the most probable scenario forecasting it will go south.
The areas that are expected to be most affected by Ianos are the Ionian islands and the Peloponnese, while the phenomena will be milder in other eastern parts of Greece, including Athens.
Apart from the high precipitation levels, Ianos will bring scattered storms, with strong winds that in some cases will reach the levels of a tempest (over 10 Beaufort) and very high waves at sea.
The Ministry of Civil Protection has warned citizens about the danger of the storms, advising them to avoid outdoor and marine activities during the coming days, secure any objects that could be taken up by winds, and to remain in safe shelter during the severe weather.
The weather website severe-weather.eu states that models are now predicting that Ianos could become “one of the strongest Mediterranean tropical-like cyclones on record.”
Its minimum central pressure is expected to drop to near 980 millibars. In addition, there could be sustained winds which may reaching hurricane-force Category 1 strength.
In what was perhaps the most startling aspect of the forecast, the weather site stated that Ianos’ peak gusts could exceed 200 km/h, (124 miles per hour) and that therefore, a severe impact is likely for the area of western Greece tonight through Friday morning.
Additionally, large amounts of rainfall will lead to dangerous flash flooding in the affected areas.
Ianos, which was officially named by the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), was formed in the southern Ionian Sea on Wednesday, Sept 16th.
Its landfall, with destructive winds and flooding, is expected to occur on Friday. The storm will begin its approach to the Ionian Islands late this evening, bringing extremely strong winds to Kefalonia and Zakynthos Islands.
The weather site also states that torrential rainfall will occur across regions of Greece, resulting in dangerous flash flooding. Through Friday evening, as much as 400 mm (15.7 inches) could fall on areas of Greece.
The strongest, outermost bands of Ianos may even produce tornadoes along the Greek coast tonight, because of their low-level shear.
As of press time on Thursday, the current sustained wind speed of Ianos is 50-55 knots (90-100 km/h) and increasing.