Satellite images have captured the extent of the destruction caused by medicane Daniel in Libya. The visuals show temporary lakes and river systems stretching across the desert landscape and reveal neighborhoods submerged by floodwater in the coastal city of Derna.
Medicane Daniel, a rare hurricane-like storm that formed in the Mediterranean Sea, first devastated Greece with heavy rain, causing catastrophic flooding. The storm then moved towards Libya, where several dams near Derna burst under the strain of the torrential rains, resulting in extensive damage to buildings. As a result, over 5,300 people have been confirmed dead, and thousands are still missing.
Multiple satellites, including the European Earth-observing satellite Sentinel-2, have captured images of Libya after the storm cleared. These images clearly show the flooding and destruction caused by medicane Daniel. Night-time images obtained by NOAA spacecraft and processed by British researcher Simon Proud show the extent of power blackouts following the storm.
Satellites owned by US company Planet also provided detailed images of the ravaged city of Derna. The flooding caused by the collapsed dams created a wide muddy trough, and the usually dried-up Wadi Derna river swelled far beyond its banks. Entire neighborhoods were submerged, bridges were missing, and houses along the river’s banks had disappeared.
Medicanes like storm Daniel are relatively rare, with only one to three being formed on average each year. It is even more unusual for a medicane to affect a Saharan country like Libya, as these storms typically strike the western part of the Mediterranean region. Climate change may be decreasing the frequency of medicanes, but those that do form in a warming world are likely to be more powerful.
These satellite images provide valuable insight into the scale of the destruction caused by medicane Daniel in Libya, helping authorities assess the extent of the damage and plan recovery efforts.