Extreme Weather Closes Heraklion Airport

This past weekend, heavy rainfall hit the Greek Island of Crete, causing extreme flash flooding and leaving two dead. The intensity of the storm saw Heraklion Airport close temporarily for safety reasons.

Extreme levels of rainfall

ERT, a Greek state broadcaster, described the scenes as a “biblical catastrophe” as Crete was ravaged by extreme weather. In just hours, the rainfall produced from the storm was equal to what would be four months’ worth typically, causing the island to shut down its roads and shops as well as its airport. It is reported that over 140 mm of rain fell within 24 hours before finally ending at 6 am (UTC) on Sunday, 16th October. With areas of the airport flooded, incoming and outgoing flights were halted, causing significant delays for those flying to and from Heraklion Airport.

Chaotic Scenes

Several clips and images shared across social media detailed the chaos that ensued at Greece’s second-largest airport, with many sharing their dismay at the lack of order and organisation exhibited. Despite researcher Dr Kostas Lagouvardos stating that meteorologists had predicted the storm, it appears that the airport took little precautions in the lead-up. Some videos show water leaking through the roof of one terminal building whilst airport staff scramble with buckets and ladders in an attempt to minimise the damage. Others took to Twitter to voice their frustration, with one user writing, “Stuck at #heraklion Airport due to a delayed @easyJet @easyJetholidays flight. Zero information from any staff and unable to find anyone helpful.” Another posted a picture of a crowded Heraklion Airport captioned, “After the rains, the storm is @herakionairport. Complete disorganization: check-in/ security/ boarding.”

Is climate change to blame?

The floods in Crete come not long after Hurricane Ian swept across Florida, causing several disruptions amongst airlines and airports in the area. Despite climate change causing more intense storms in recent years, Lagouvardos does not believe the weather event results from global warming. However, officials have also given credit to poor infrastructure and drainage systems for the level of damage caused by the storm.

Do you think that storms like this will be more common in the future? Should Heraklion Airport have done more to prevent such disruption? Let us know in the comments.

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