by Richard Davies, floodlist.com
The month of February saw two severe flood events on the Greek island of Crete, causing 5 fatalities as well as damage to buildings, agriculture, roads and other infrastructure. Local media reported that 4 people were missing on 16 February after their vehicle was swept away by the flood waters from an overflowing river. A search operation, including members of the fire service and a helicopter, was launched. Four bodies were later found in the Messara area in the southern part of the island.
Hellenic National Meteorological Service (HNMS) said that between 12 and 17 February, 180 mm of rain fell in Kastelli, including 74.5 mm in 24 hours to 17 February. A few days later, a weather system referred to by local media as “Storm Oceanis”, brought further heavy rain to parts of Crete from 23 February, causing flooding and landslides.
HNMS figures showed that Souda recorded 116 mm of rain on 25 February, which is more than the average monthly rainfall for February. Local reports said that emergency teams rescued others from flood water and from vehicles trapped in landslides. Schools and roads were closed.
Up to four times the average monthly rainfall
Artemis Papapetrou, Head of the Hydrology Section of HNMS, published a valuable review of the severe weather events for February, revealing that some areas of Crete saw 3 or 4 times the average monthly rainfall. According to HNMS, between 1 and 26 February, the weather station at Kastelli recorded 269 mm of rain, which is 270% of the average February monthly rainfall. The total rainfall amount for both January and February 2019 (497 mm) was 72% of the average annual rainfall.
During the same period, Heraklion recorded 193 mm, which is 300% of the average monthly rainfall for February. The total amount for both January and February 2019 (356 mm) was 74 % of the average annual rainfall. Likewise, the weather station at Souda recorded 406 mm between 1 and 26 February, which is four times the monthly average and the second highest monthly total on record.