Forces of natures: When a storm is just a storm
For all its ferocity, the storm that hit Sardinia was a lot less powerful than a typhoon or hurricane
Two tankers are battered by gale winds in the rough waters of the Gulf of Cagliari, Sardinia, on Monday. Photograph: Max Solinas/AP
Forecasters at Met Éireann dismissed the notion that the Sardinian storm, which dumped a colossal 44cm of rain on the Mediterranean island in 24 hours, was a hurricane or typhoon.
“It seems to have been a local event, a perfect storm with a number of things coming together to produce it,” a forecaster said. There were strong winds along with the rain but nothing in the order of a hurricane or typhoon, which would have sustained winds of 60 to 70 knots at least and usually higher, he said.
The tropical storms that form in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are huge weather systems between 800 and 1,600km across, something that could cover most of the Mediterranean Sea.
“If it had been this type of storm there would have been a lot of wind damage, but most of the damage and deaths [in Sardinia] were related to the heavy rainfall,” he said.
Low-pressure cells are not uncommon in the Mediterranean, but the storm over Sardinia could have been caused by a number of lows coming together to deliver a powerful localised storm. It also dumped heavy rain and delivered strong winds once it tracked over northern Italy but it had nothing like the storm surge or sustained impact of Typhoon Hayian.