Category Archives: Other Basins

Other TCs

Tropical Cyclone-like Low Forms Over the Mediterranean Sea

A small circular symmetric low pressure system developed over the southern Mediterranean Sea on Friday.  The low had an eye-like feature in its center and spiral bands of convection which made its structure look somewhat similar to a tropical cyclone.  The low brought wind gusts to 64 m.p.h. and a pressure of 986 mb to Malta.  At 3:00 p.m. the center of the low was near 32°N and longitude 15°E which put it about 300 miles south of Syracuse on the island of Sicily.  The low was moving toward the east-northeast and it was passing just south of the island of Sicily.

There have been other low pressure systems over the Mediterranean Sea that were similar to the current system and they often start debates about how they should be classified.  Some aspects of their structure (i.e. an eye-like feature in the center and spiral bands of clouds) are similar in structure to tropical cyclones.  The strongest winds are usually found close to the center of circulation and the pressure falls rapidly near the center, which are characteristics also seen in tropical cyclones.  The convection in the Mediterranean lows is usually not as deep as the convection in tropical cyclones and it is difficult to determine if they have a warm core in the middle and upper troposphere, which is part of the definition of a tropical cyclone.  Some of the lows are very similar to tropical cyclones from other parts of the world while other Mediterranean lows appear less like tropical cyclones of the deep tropics and more like subtropical cyclones or some other type of hybrid mesoscale low pressure system.  In any case they do bring winds which are strong enough to cause damage and they can produce heavy rainfall, especially when the cross mountainous regions.