A rare Mediterranean cyclone began to rake western Greece with heavy rains on Thursday and was expected to slam into the country in full force on Friday, with hurricane-force wind and life-threatening flooding in some places, forecasters said.
Cyclone Ianos is an example of what meteorologists sometimes call a Medicane — a powerful type of storm all but unknown until the 1990s. It has been seen more often as the atmosphere and sea warm.
Greece’s National Meteorological Service issued an unusual bulletin warning of extraordinary danger for southern portions of the country’s mainland — a region known for its mild weather — beginning Thursday afternoon and continuing into Saturday. Forecasters warned that a foot or more of rain could fall in places.
Because Mediterranean storms do not originate in the tropics, meteorologists do not call them tropical storms or hurricanes. But Ianos qualifies in all but name, with cyclonic high winds and satellite images showing the characteristic dense wheel of cloud and a well-defined eye.
By late Thursday, as it crossed the Ionian Sea, it packed tropical storm-force winds and was forecast to reach hurricane force — 75 miles per hour or more — on Friday.
The storm originated as a low pressure system over Libya, moving north and then east over the Mediterranean, brushing southern Italy and gaining power as it drew moisture from waters that have been as warm as 81 degrees in places.
It was expected to make landfall Friday on the northwestern coast of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, but forecasters said greatest danger of flooding and high winds lay a bit to the north, around the Gulf of Patras.
Ianos was expected to pass across the Peloponnese, south of Athens, on Saturday and Sunday, weakening as it crosses land.
Greece has been hit by several weather-related crises in recent years, from flash floods and snowstorms to extreme heat waves and deadly wildfires.