Weather Fact Friday

What is a medicane?

This week, a low pressure area above the Mediterranean Sea moved towards Algeria and developed the typical spiral shape of a medicane: The center was nearly cloud free like the eye of a hurricane. Medicane is a short term for Mediterranean hurricane. Officially, storms with maximum wind speeds above 112 km/h can be called medicane. It is unclear if the storm this week reached this wind speed. Medicanes occur especially in autumn, when cold air flows towards the equator and a cut-off low is formed in the higher air layers. Above the still warm water temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea, the humid air mass near the sea condenses and forms a strong low pressure area. In contrast to tropical storms, in a medicane the highest wind speeds do not occur directly around the eye, but in the spiral shaped rainbands and thunderstorms around the low pressure area.

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