There is a lot of talk about it, on the various social groups dedicated to sailing and meteorology. There is a real “medicane” in the Mediterranean, dangerously close to Italy. Meteomed meteorologist Riccardo Ravagnan writes: “The Mediterranean cyclone in recent hours has shifted its center of gravity toward the Ionian Sea and is lapping Italy, particularly Sicily and Calabria, where rain and thunderstorms are occurring.
Some rain also involves Puglia, Basilicata and Campania. Moving the cyclone into a low shear zone allows for better organization of the cloud structure spiraling around the minimum whose pressure has dropped below 1000 hPa. It is possible it may present an eye. The Medicane is now expected over Greece where it will make landfall on Friday with very intense winds gusting over 160 km/h and torrential rains“.
WHAT ARE MEDICANES?
When we think about the danger of the sea, the first place that appears to our mind is the Ocean, because of its vastness, grandeur and the destructive weather phenomena we are used to seeing on television. According to many great sailors, however, the Mediterranean is the most unpredictable sea (and therefore, potentially dangerous), so even when navigating as a family, it is worthwhile to be supported by a team of experts.
With Meteomed, for example, you can count on a platform with forecasts designed for the Mediterranean and have the opportunity to consult, even on a daily basis, with a team of professional meteorologists. Also because, apart from the routine ne cessities of sailing (storm warnings, high winds, rough seas), there are some very dangerous meteomarine phenomena.
LIKE TROPICAL CYCLONES
You may not know it, but even the Mare Nostrum has its hurricanes: the term medicane (short for Mediterranean Hurricane) is used to refer to a low-pressure systemand characterized by heavy rainfall and intense winds in which a small, well-delineated “eye” can be recognized (another name given to these pseudo cyclones is TLC, ‘tropical like cyclone’).
“Whirlpools of this kind are not uncommon in our basin, one of the last in terms of time, ‘Vega,’ dates back to Nov. 7, 2014 and affected the arm of the sea between Malta and Lampedusa. The strongest, however, was ‘Zeo,’ which in December 2005 did a lot of damage and even casualties in Sicily,” Meteomed experts recount. “While they do not reach the strength and size of tropical hurricanes, their similarity in shape is incredible.
SO MANY DOCUMENTED CASES
Since satellite observations have been available, many cases have been documented. Also between October 4 and 9, 1996, two Mediterranean cyclones involved southern Italy. The strongest, Cornelia, after crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea reached Sicily and Calabria bringing intense rainfall and causing extensive damage. Particularly affected were the Aeolian Islands where winds reached gusts of 140 km/h; many boats and yachts sank while intense swells involved the coast of Sicily.”
ANATOMY OF A “MEDICANE”
“Medicanes seem to evolve just like normal hurricanes and draw energy from the warm sea and are the next step up from the (aforementioned) TLCs,” they explain. “Such eddies are usually formed by the insertion over the South Seas of an overhead vortex. Once the vortex is formed, the process of extracting marine energy fluxes increases due to the strengthening of winds, drawn into the depression center. Having formed the vortex, the main energy at this point comes precisely from the flow of heat and moisture provided by the sea. They indeed evolve on the sea surface but then tend to fade once they reach land. Because of the large number of people who populate the coast, medicanes have a very dangerous potential so a better understanding of these eddies is necessary to be able to reduce social impacts.”
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