Medicane “Marquesa” makes landfall in Libya, causing severe flash flooding and leaving thousands dead and missing

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Medicane “Marquesa” — a Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone, made landfall in Libya at 01:30 UTC on September 10, 2023, causing severe flash flooding in Benghazi and neighboring regions.

The low that has been spinning in the central Mediterranean since the beginning of the week, bringing exceptionally heavy rains and major flooding to central Greece, has developed a well-organized convective pattern and met the criteria for designation as a medistorm on September 8, 2023.

The Meditteranean Cyclone Center (MCC) named the storm Marquesa at 12:00 UTC on the same day.

The system continued moving toward Libya, before slowing down and meandering off the coast of Libiya early on September 9.

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Medicane “Marquesa” at 12:30 UTC on September 10, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-10, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
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Marquesa’s convective pattern improved significantly by 18:00 UTC on September 9 and started to develop an eye-feature. While Marquesa continued to struggle with dry air, it was assessed to be a fully tropical medicine, MCC meteorologists said at the time.

Heavy rains were falling across the country even before the landfall, with flash floods reported.

Satellite imagery shows that Marquesa made landfall just north of Benghazi, Libya, around 01:30 UTC on September 10, with maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h (55 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 995 hPa.

At 12:00 UTC today, Marquesa was still grinding its way through Libya, with maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h (40 mph). “The storm continues to have a vigorous low level circulation center (LLCC) with sheared deep convection over it. Marquesa will weaken today and lose its convection en route to becoming a remnant low tonight,” MCC said.

The Benghazi Municipal Council has issued a two-day curfew starting from 20:00 LT on Saturday, September 9, until Monday, September 11.

The authorities have also ordered the evacuation of several parts of the city, including low-lying communities near streams and valleys.


September 11

A large-scale destruction was reported in Derna of Jabal al Akhdar region.

At least 150 people were killed as a result of flooding in Derna and the suburbs of Al-Marj, Mohamed Massoud, a spokesman for the Benghazi-based administration in Libya, told AFP.

Massoud added that authorities had lost contact with nine soldiers during rescue operations in the city.

The Head of the Government of National Unity, Abdul-Hamid Al-Dabaiba, instructed yesterday all state agencies, ministries, and institutions to deal quickly and immediately with torrents resulting from the depression that passes through the cities of the east of the country.

22:32 UTC

New reports mention at least 2 500 deaths and 7 000 missing.

September 12

14:14 UTC

New estimates mention the death toll is now at 4 500, with thousands of people still missing.

Featured image: Medicane “Marquesa” at 12:30 UTC on September 10, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-10, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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