Severe weather hits islandwide


SEVERE weather struck across the island yesterday with hail, storms, rain and strong winds affecting all areas, although Larnaca was worst hit.

“I’ve never seen such a hailstorm in my life and I’m 80 years old,” said one Larnaca resident.

A driver on the Larnaca-Dhekelia road as hailstones began to hammer down said all drivers had to pull over as the hailstones reduced visibility to zero as well as causing the temperature to fall from 12C to 4C in matter of seconds.

“It was very scary as you thought that the roof of the car was going to cave in from the battering of the hail stones,” the driver said, adding that the storm lasted about five minutes.

The capital was also hit by a hailstorm towards lunchtime however it did not cause any problems. 

According to the Fire Services, the bad weather that struck Larnaca started from the morning and spread throughout the district, with some areas reporting hailstones the size of walnuts.

Drivers waded through rivers of water that gathered in the streets in the centre of Larnaca especially, which floods every time torrential rain hits. This in turn caused problems for a lot of businesses as the rain water rose up to pavements and into their shops. 

Fire Services spokesperson Liza Kemidji said that despite the bad weather islandwide they were only called out 26 times to pump water from basements and streets, and to help drivers who had got trapped in their cars due to flooding. The majority of the call-outs were in Larnaca, with two in Nicosia and four in Limassol.

Some areas of Larnaca even experienced power cuts during the storm but by around lunchtime power was fully restored.

Meanwhile, police had warned all drivers to stay put yesterday unless they had to go out, due to the torrential rainfall and fog that crept in over certain areas.

Some roads were closed due to landslides, such as the Delinis-Eftagonias road.

The Meteorological Services issued a yellow warning – meaning the public should be aware of the conditions – for strong winds throughout the island that began yesterday and is likely to continue until this afternoon.

According to Meteorological Service official Michalis Mouskos, the heavy rainfall will abate by today leaving behind very cold weather due to the strong winds, however the odd isolated storm is not out of the question.

“This particular weather system will leave behind it quite cold weather along with snow in the mountains and semi-mountainous regions,” said Mouskos.

The temperature will drop to 9C inland, 10C on the coast and 0C in the mountains today.

“We’ll have very strong winds today and maybe some storms but they won’t be nearly as intense as [yesterday’s] storms,” he added.

The weather on Thursday and Friday is expected to be cloudy with some isolated storms as well as snow in the mountains. Mouskos pointed out that the strong winds will diminish allowing temperatures to rise slightly. 

On Saturday temperatures are expected to rise to about 15C.

Meanwhile the most rainfall yesterday fell in Platania with 34.1mm, followed by Prodromos at 28.2mm and Stavros tis Psokas with 23.7mm. Since February 1 a total of 72.7mm of rain has fallen with the norm for the month totalling 81.6mm.

2012 is on track to be the wettest year in more than a decade after record January rains and the second highest February reservoir inflow since 2003.

Water continues to pour into the island’s dams which are currently 85 per cent full.

According to the Water Development Department, February’s reservoir inflow was 37.71 million cubic metres – the highest since 2003 when 44 milliion cubic metres flowed into the dams.

The total since October is now 138 million cubic metres; more than double last year’s total of 63 million cubic metres.