GALLERY: Devastating Medicane Sends Solid Surf to Italy's Heel in a Once-a-Year Event

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 194d ago

A rare, once-a-year event has just thrown down in the Ionian Sea. A Medicane, that's a hurricane in the Meditteranean, sent solid, clean surf to the heel of Italy and beyond last week. And then, another system tore across the north west of the Med – a much more common swell event, unleashing a dazzling day in the country's north.

We're not joking about the once-a-year thing either, here's the last time a Medicane of this magnitude struck. And while western Europe was getting a licking of swell, the Med, too had its day.

Spot guide: Italy

© 2022 - Giovanni Fano

Photographer Giovanni Fano said surfers come from all around when these Medicanes stride through the Sea. “ The ideal wind is from the north,” he said. “And the ideal swell angle is from the south. When a system arrives between north Africa and Sicily, usually a huge amount of swell comes to us in the Ionian Sea.”

© 2022 - Giovanni Fano

And though they're traditionally once-a-year events, Giovanni says Medicanes are becoming more frequent. Great for surfers, not so much for locals.

“This last one (called Storm Apollo, FYI) on the 28 and 29 of October, was so big it caused a load of destruction in Sicily,” he said.

© 2022 - Giovanni Fano

After spending a bit of time in Australia, Giovanni moved back to Italy where he says the waves are “some of the best I've ever seen, including in Aus.” And that's some dedication to home.

© 2022 - Giovanni Fano

© 2022 - Giovanni Fano

Then, just a couple days ago, a smaller but equally exciting storm hit the top of Italy, along the crescent-shaped coastline of Liguria, and captured by Andrea Giana.

Then, this second pulse sent waves to Italy's north west, earlier this week.

Then, this second pulse sent waves to Italy's north west, earlier this week.

© 2022 - Andrea Giana

As for the Medicane, MSW forecaster Tony Butt said: "Cyclone Apollo began life in the western Mediterranean around October 22, before moving eastwards and intensifying south of Italy over the next few days. It affected the coastlines of several countries including Italy, Malta, Tunisia and Algeria. The system was also unofficially considered to be a ‘medicane’ although it was not technically a tropical storm.

© 2022 - Andrea Giana

By October 25, it was located near Malta and drifted southeast for the next two days, gradually strengthening. It then turned around and moved towards the northwest, intensifying much more rapidly just southwest of Sicily around 28th and 29th, with winds reaching 50 kts. This generated some very large, unruly swell for local coastlines, but sent a pulse of swell northwards. The swell reached surf spots in Puglia late on 29th and persisted through 30th with good local wind conditions and wave heights up to about five feet.

© 2022 - Tommaso Pardini

The storm then turned around once more and headed southeast while gradually weakening. It made landfall in Libya on 31st, with strong local winds and heavy rainfall."

© 2022 - Andrea Giana