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WEATHER U: Medicane is meteorological

Rare medicane - as it made landfall in southern Greece early Saturday morning. - WSI
Rare medicane - as it made landfall in southern Greece early Saturday morning. - WSI

Last Friday, a very unusual weather system took shape over the Mediterranean – a medicane. It became fully developed late Friday and was headed for Crete and Greece. I explained it during my evening forecast video weather update at www.weatherbyday.ca.

Later that day, a co-worker accused me of making it up; rest assured, it is real.  The word is a portmanteau word derived from “Mediterranean” and “hurricane.”

The system is a tropical-like cyclone.  Unlike a true tropical storm, this cyclone forms in an enclosed area.  For that reason, the peak strength of a medicane is usually equivalent to a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

On average one or two of these storms form every year but here’s a familiar refrain:  as sea surface temperatures continue to rise, so too will the number of medicanes.

Last weekend the temperature of the Aegean Sea was above average and that breathed new life into the weakening medicane as it set its sights on western Turkey.

Moving forward, as global air and sea surface temperatures continue to rise, these rare and unusual weather events will no doubt – and unfortunately – become more common.   

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