Severe weather swept across the Mediterranean into Turkey, killing at least one person in flash floods [Reuters]
It was over a week ago that a low pressure formed over southern Europe, and it’s caused widespread problems as it’s tracked slowly east across parts of the Middle East.
Even over Italy, it was an intense system. Between 18 and 19 September, torrential thunderstorms lead to the deaths of four people and caused widespread disruption. In Rome, subway stations were flooded; in Palermo, a ferry was ripped from its moorings; and in Sicily, a gust of wind blew a Falcon 2000 jet off the runway.
The system then headed southeast, towards Turkey, and it was still packing quite a punch.
It took five days, but eventually the storms reached Rize, in the northeast of Turkey. As the rains poured down, flash flooding and mudslides killed at least one person.
More than 200 homes were flooded, and in rural areas several people had to be plucked to safety by helicopter. Vehicles were partially submerged in the filthy floodwaters, which then dried out, forming solid mud, ensuring that the vehicles were stuck fast.
Yet still the system hadn’t finished. It moved through Syria, bringing the first heavy rain after the long, dry summer. Safita in Tartus, reported 121 mm of rain in just 24 hours. This is far more rain than would normally be expected so soon after the summer, and with the ground baked hard by the sun, it was certainly enough to give widespread flooding.
Now, in the last 24 hours, torrential rain has also been lashing northern parts of Iran. Ransar, on the coast of the Caspian Sea, reported 121 mm of rain.
As well as heavy rain, the system has also brought noticeable temperature decreases to the region. Many places saw the temperatures drop by 3 degrees and in Aleppo, they dropped 5 Celsius, from 33C on the 22 September, to 28C on the 23rd.
The system will continue to bring thundery downpours to northern Iran over the next 24 hours and is then expected to break up.
This is the first heavy soaking that the non-coastal countries of the Middle East have seen since the long, dry summer, and is two or three weeks earlier than the average.