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Rare storm called 'Medicane' bearing down on Greece

By Sommer Brokaw

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- An infrequent type of storm known as a "Medicane" -- because of its hurricane-like features and impact on the Mediterranean -- is on track for Greece and Turkey this weekend, forecasters said.

The storm in the south Ionian Sea early Friday was headed due north, according to Severe Weather Europe, but it's expected to take a sharp east-northeast turn Friday evening and move toward Greece early Saturday.

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"It will then continue across southern Greece and effect both Peloponnese and Crete island with extremely severe winds and storms with flash floods threat," Severe Weather Europe said. "Medicane will be then traveling across Aegean sea on Sunday and make landfall in western Turkey."

"High risk for extreme rainfall amounts remains in place," it added, forecasting 10 to 20 inches of rain in some areas and nearly 30 in the eastern Peloponnese.

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Peak wind gusts as strong as 93 mph, Category 1 hurricane strength, are forecast along the Medicane's track.

Greece is preparing for the storm threat, having already seen gale-force winds of more than 60 mph. Ferries remained in port Thursday, cutting off the connection between the Greek islands and the mainland, the Independent reported.

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Strong winds have already uprooted trees onto power lines in Athens and the fire department has received 500 calls to remove debris. Schools in Athens also closed Friday and severe weather warnings were issued through Sunday.

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The storm has already caused flash flooding across Tunisia and Libya.

Only about one to two "Medicanes" occur per year, according to a 2011 study, usually during September and October when Mediterranean Sea temperatures are warmest.

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