November 21st, 2017

Non-stop rain lashes Cyprus

Torrential rains relentlessly battered the island yesterday, with a reported 80 calls to emergency services and traffic jams congesting the motorways and the streets of the capital.

The main problems were reported in the Famagusta, Larnaca and Nicosia districts, with homeowners and motorists calling for help to deal with the effects of the relentless rain, including basement flooding and rescues from stranded cars. Despite several complaints from unhappy members of the public, the Water Development Department said the rains, which started on Thursday evening and continued non-stop overnight, had helped increase the dams' water capacity to 57.7 per cent by 8am yesterday compared to last year's capacity of 17. 5 per cent.

Today this figure is expected to increase even more.

In fact total average rainfall for February was 80 per cent while total rainfall for the period starting from October 1 reached 120 per cent.

The news is expected to be welcomed by farmers who are expected to receive an increase in water rations this year. The decision to allot water for agriculture will be made in March, said Fedros Roussis, senior technician at the Water Development Department.

Traffic Police Chief Demetris Demetriou said the rain had caused serious traffic problems on the motorways, specifically the Nicosia to Limassol and Nicosia to Kokkinotrimithia motorways.

"From 1pm to 5pm both lanes of traffic were full of cars," he said.

Demetriou said a lot of rainwater had gathered on the tarmac and police had been forced to call the Public Works Department to help unblock manholes.

"There were a total 11 accidents on the motorways but thankfully it was mainly material damage. There was one mild injury and [the motorist] was taken to Nicosia general hospital," he said.

Two roads had also been closed in Nicosia due to overflowing of low bridges including Alexandroupoleos and the Red Cross.

"It's important to stress to motorists that they be particularly careful in weather like this, to drive slowly, to have their headlights on, to keep a distance from the other cars. When there is water on the roads it's very dangerous to drive fast," said Demetriou.

Fire Services spokesman Marios Kyprianou said the fire department had received 80 calls island wide with the majority of calls in the morning in the Famagusta and Larnaca districts.

"From noon until now [6.30pm] we've had most of the calls from Nicosia," he said.

The majority of calls involved pumping water from basements, opening drains and six people had called to be rescued after they became trapped in their cars, said Kyprianou.

He said the fire department responded to each call as fast as it could but that the calls were placed in order of priority first with the most dangerous calls at the top of the response list.

According to the meteorology department the rain is due to continue today, gradually easing off in the morning until mid-afternoon, early evening, when it expected to start up again and last until Sunday afternoon. Snowfall was also predicted in the mountains, starting from last night until Sunday morning.

Temperatures today are expected to rise slightly to 17 degrees inland, 19 degrees on the coast and seven degrees in the mountains.

"As of Monday the weather will clear with temperatures set to go up," a weather services officer said.

Source:  Cyprus-Mail