September 13, 2023 - Deadly Flooding in Libya

September 12, 2023 September 3, 2023

In early September 2023, a severe storm formed in the Mediterranean Sea. It dropped record-breaking rainfall on Greece on September 5-6, delivering 750 mm (30 in) of rain in 24 hours in Zagor—the equivalent of 18 months of rainfall—according to ReliefWeb. The same low-pressure system, which became known as Storm Daniel, produced deadly flooding in eastern Bulgaria and western Turkey on September 5, but eased by the next day. At least 26 people have been reported to have been killed in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece from Storm Daniel.

In Greece, the storm gradually receded by the evening of September 7, but it crossed the Mediterranean Sea, making landfall in Libya on September 10 carrying maximum sustained winds of about 44-50 mph (70-80 km/h). Strong winds and severe rainfall battered northeastern Libya, including Benghazi, Tobruk, Toukra, Talmeitha, Almarj, Taknes (Al Jabal Al Akhdar), Al Owailia, Bayada, Albayda, Shahhat, Sousa and Derna, causing devastating flooding. Two dams near the city of Derna collapsed, according to media reports, after the country received a new daily rainfall record of 414.1 mm (16.3 inches). On September 12, several news outlets have reported thousands have died with many more missing in the widespread catastrophic flooding, but no firm figures have been released.

On September 12, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a false-color image of flooding across northeastern Libya. This type of image uses infrared and visible light to better visualize water, which appears in shades of blue with the deepest water looking the darkest, from land (tan) and vegetation (green). Clouds may look white or also have a blue tint. The inundated areas stretch over a distance of about 200 km (124 miles), as measured using the tools in the NASA Worldview App.

To truly appreciate the stunning nature of the floods, it is helpful to compare the image acquired on September 12, 2023, with one acquired before Storm Daniel dropped a deluge over the region. To compare this image with another Terra MODIS image acquired on September 3, 2023, simply click on the dates under the image.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 9/12/2023
Resolutions: 1km (94.2 KB), 500m (231.2 KB), 250m (132.4 KB)
Bands Used: 7,2,1
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC