Rare Subtropical Storm Daniel hits Libya, causing flooding and havoc

Rare Subtropical Storm Daniel hits Libya, causing flooding and havoc
Mediterranean Storm Daniel unleashed its fury upon Libya on Sunday, wrecking havoc and causing flooding. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews September 10, 2023

Mediterranean Storm Daniel unleashed its fury upon Libya on September 10, leaving a trail of flooding and destruction in its wake. The subtropical storm is part of a series of powerful storms wreaking havoc worldwide as the global climate crisis starts to enter an acute phase.

Libyan authorities took precautionary measures, closing four oil ports. The state-owned National Oil Corp. (NOC) declared a state of maximum alert on September 10, in anticipation of a possible hurricane making its way towards the country.

What makes this storm particularly unusual is its subtropical nature, occurring in the Mediterranean during July and September. The Mediterranean region is not typically associated with such weather phenomena.

Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, Brega and Es Sidra ports have been shut down for at least three days, a decision confirmed by a senior NOC official. Furthermore, the NOC issued directives for all affiliated companies to curtail movement outside oil sites, restrict mobility and halt flights between fields. The aim is to safeguard industrial facilities, production lines, storage units and other critical infrastructure from potential flood damage. Contingency measures may include evacuating personnel and equipment from vulnerable sites.

Storm Daniel, which had previously battered Greece and Turkey, had been downgraded to a subtropical storm by September 9. Despite this downgrade, it posed a significant threat to Libya, with forecasts predicting "severe effects" for the nation, according to the Middle East meteorological service Arab Weather.

The Arab Regional Weather Centre issued a report on the storm's progress, noting its arrival on the north-eastern coasts of Libya in Benghazi. The report highlighted the potential impact on areas such as Benghazi, Al-Marj, Al-Bayda, Shahat, Derna and Tobruk. High-speed winds, ranging from 120 km/hour to 180 km/hour, coupled with substantial rainfall of "50-250 mm", were expected. The storm also brought the risk of lightning and thunder, particularly in valley and mountainous regions.

Social media footage portrayed scenes of heavy rainfall in the city of Al-Marj, where rescue efforts were underway to assist families trapped in their homes due to the deluge. Efforts to clear rainwater runoff paths were in progress.

Benghazi bore the brunt of the storm, with reports of collapsed buildings and trees, resulting in substantial property damage.

Libya, a major producer of light, sweet crude oil, exports the majority of its production to Europe, accounting for about 85% of its exports. Domestic refineries have been plagued by damage from conflicts, rendering many offline or operating at severely reduced capacity. Additionally, Libya sells a significant volume of gas to Europe.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Meteorological Authority (EMA) issued a warning on September 10 indicating that Storm Daniel, which had hit the eastern Mediterranean, would reach Egypt a day later. The EMA noted that by the time the storm had reached Egypt's west coast it would have significantly weakened. Nevertheless, the country was expected to experience unstable weather conditions from Monday to Wednesday as a result of the storm's influence.