Greece: Homes left destroyed as fires continue to rage
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Extremely popular with British tourists, the Greek islands and mainland are known for their ancient sites, fantastic weather and stunning beaches. But rainstorms and heatwaves are expected to become more common.
Last week, Storm Ballos led to extreme rainfall in parts of Greece, including on the island of Evia.
Christos Zerefos, a weather expert, said: “We saw in some regions of Greece rain that in a few hours reached a third of the amount of rainfall we get in an entire year. This is an extreme phenomenon.”
One person was killed by Ballos on Evia as a 70 year old was swept away by the storm’s rushing waters.
The severe storm came just a week after another powerful storm, Athena, hit Greece causing floods in some regions.
Heatwaves have also become increasingly common in Greece, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees.
Zerefos said: “A heatwave like that we saw throughout Greece this summer, which lasted over 10 days, is an extreme phenomenon.”
The country’s heatwave in early August saw Greece’s highest ever temperature recorded.
A sweltering 46.3 degrees was recorded in the town of Makrakomi in Greece’s Phthiotis region.
Although Greece experienced heatwaves in decades gone by, the length and severity of recent events is far more extreme.
Before 1987, experts say Greek heatwaves usually lasted up to a maximum of two days and were not as hot.
Zerefos said the extreme weather conditions in Greece are a symptom of climate change and could become worse unless humans change their habits.
Greece has also experienced extensive dry periods without any rain. Rainfall could drop by as much as 15 percent in Greece although the country could still experience ‘extreme rainfalls’ like Ballos.
In August, sweltering forest fires swept across the island of Evia causing 2,000 people to be evacuated.
One tourist on Evia at the time of the fires described the burning scenes as like an “apocalyptic movie”.
Forest fires also struck near the capital city of Athens with blazes in a few of the city’s suburbs.
If the dramatic weather events continue, Greece could lose beaches and coastlines as sea levels rise.
Zerefos recommended that locals and tourists should change their habits to prepare for extreme weather.
He said: “That means avoiding going out when the forecast is for extreme weather and not fighting nature.
“The rivulet we cross by car daily, especially in rural areas, could turn into a torrent which no vehicle could withstand.”
Greece has set up emergency alerts which are sent to people’s mobile phones when an extreme weather event is expected.
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