A powerful storm dubbed Daniel dropped exceptionally high amounts of rain over parts of central Greece on September 4 and 5, 2023, resulting in widespread flooding, destruction, and the tragic loss of at least 10 lives. Experts label this as the country’s worst storm since records began in 1930. The worst affected was the Thessaly Region, particularly its Magnesia prefecture.
- Parts of Greece were battered by a quantity of rain equivalent to 1 – 3 years’ worth in merely one or two days. Some parts have even registered double the amount it usually falls within 12 months in just 12 hours.
- This sudden deluge led to extensive floods, widespread destruction, and a death toll that has reached at least 10.
The storm was described as an “extreme phenomenon” due to the sheer volume of water that descended in less than 24 hours. In fact, it’s been identified as the most intense storm the nation has seen since data collection began in 1930.
Data records from this historic event indicate that Zagora saw a staggering 754 mm (29.7 inches) of rainfall in just under 21 hours on September 5. The subsequent day, Karditsa documented 331 mm (13 inches) in a span of 19 hours.
With the immediate aftermath of the storm, many regions continued to receive rain, amassing up to 1 – 3 years’ worth of typical rainfall in just a few days. Areas such as the port city of Volos in Magnesia, the villages of Mount Pelion, Karditsa, and Trikala felt the significant impact of the storm.
The future aftermath of this storm could lead to a significant geographical shift in the region. Experts have begun to hint at the potential formation of permanent lakes in certain areas affected by the deluge.
The torrents from the storm were so powerful that they wreaked havoc on infrastructure, roads, bridges, homes, and businesses. Vassilis Kikilias, the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister, conveyed the gravity of the situation in a press briefing on September 6. Satellite imagery offers a stark view of the catastrophe, revealing enormous areas of Greece’s agricultural lands submerged.
Emergency services sprung into action, deploying helicopters and lifeboats to save hundreds of villagers who found themselves trapped due to the rising floodwaters. Yannis Artopios, a fire department spokesman, stated that more than 2 850 people have been rescued since the onset of this severe weather. However, concerns remain for several who are trapped in villages near Karditsa, Palamas, and Trikala. In Palamas, several homes are still under water, and emergency operations are ongoing. Nearby Larissa also reports concerning conditions.
The storm has not just taken a toll on human life but has extensively impacted Greece’s agricultural sector. The Ministry of Rural Development and Food has shared grim figures regarding the devastation to the Thessaly Plain’s crop and animal production. An estimated 73 000 ha (180 388 acres) across Thessaly are now submerged, with a large portion cultivated with cotton. Apart from cotton, other crops like corn, tomatoes, almonds, apples, and more have been affected. Notably, out of the original 960 000 sheep and 370 000 goats in Thessaly, a third have been lost to the floods.
In the face of this national crisis, Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited the affected areas, assuring residents of the government’s unwavering support. Acknowledging the severity of the event, he emphasized the need for swift action and relief.
To add to the nation’s challenges, water supply in Volos remains compromised due to the destruction of key infrastructure components, such as pumping stations and portions of the supply network. The Greek Ministry of Health has issued an advisory, urging citizens in the impacted regions to refrain from consuming the available water.
In the broader context, the wrath of the storm was not limited to Greece. Neighboring countries, Bulgaria and Turkey, also faced the storm’s effects, with the combined death toll across these nations reaching 22 since September 5.
1 Greek rescue teams move into worst-hit flood villages – eKathimerini – September 9, 2023
2 Heavy rainfall kills at least 10 people as fire department evacuates thousands from worst-hit areas – Financial Times – September 8, 2023
3 Agricultural damage found to be far greater than Ianos – eKathimerini – September 9, 2023
Featured image credit: Νταβατζικος Αγγελος (stillshot)
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