Hurricane-force winds and heavy rains have battered several islands off Greece’s western coast, causing electricity outages and road closures.
The islands of Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca were all badly hit by Storm Ianos on Friday, as winds reaching 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour) damaged buildings, uprooted trees, sank sailboats and left thousands without power.
The rare storm is described as a “medicane” – a combination of Mediterranean and hurricane, as it has similar features to hurricanes and typhoons. These can form over cooler waters and usually move from west to east, whereas hurricanes move from east to west.
Ianos is now expected to track southeast, bringing high winds and heavy rainfall, but is not forecast to directly affect Greece’s capital, Athens.
Widespread rains of 150-250 millimetres (6 -10 inches) are possible over the next 48 hours, with some local areas seeing up to 500mm (20 inches).
So far, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths, but authorities have warned residents to remain indoors and stay alert.
Warmer sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea can allow the storms to take on more tropical appearances and characteristics, increasing the wind speeds and making the storms more intense.
Storm Ianos could end up being one of the strongest medicanes on record.
Al Jazeera and news agencies