Climate, Earthquakes and Tsunamis on Crete
Weather forecast for Crete and Athens
Crete is the southernmost and biggest of the Greek islands. The climate is a few degrees warmer than the mainland and other islands. Gavdos, one of Crete’s satellites, lays claim to being the southernmost place in Europe.
The short winter (January to February): is similar to British weather in September; there are a few warm days with temperature over 18 degrees, but many more rainy days with temperatures of 8-15 degrees. The sea temperature is generally 15 degrees.
Spring (March – May): The weather in these months gets warmer and warmer, and the frequency of rainfalls dwindles. In March the average daytime temperature is 20 degrees, going up to 26 degrees in May. This is a great time to go to Crete for a walking or cycling holiday; the island is a deep shade of green with flowers all over. The sea remains fairly chilly until May.
Summer (June – September): There is almost no rain; the sky is blue and rarely bothered by clouds. Days where the temperature drops below 28 degrees are rare, and many days are over 35 degrees. Sea temperature in these months is over 25 degrees, and pleasant for swimming.
Autumn (October – December): winter sees many warm days. Some days in December it is possible to go to the beach with temperatures around 22 degrees and the sea temperature is still pretty warm at 18 degrees. There are more and more rainy days, transforming the brown, desert-like landscape slowly into a green one.
Map of Crete
Earthquakes and Tsunamis on Crete
Crete, like many other parts of Greece, is in an earthquake zone. The Minoans endured some catastrophic earthquakes: circa 1700BC an earthquake destroyed nearly every building on the island, and suffered the same fate barely 300 years later – this time the explosion in Santorini is suspected to be the culprit. The eruption of the island sparked a gigantic earthquake and enormous tsunami. Some historians believe the wave to have been 200m high. Contrasting this with the Asian tsunami some years ago, which was ‘only’ 10m high, there’s little surprise that Crete was totally destroyed, bar the mountain areas. Unsurprisingly, people refused to live next to the sea for centuries after this.
Today, Cretan authorities have made strict laws on how to build earthquake-proof homes, but many are still afraid. Until the Asian tsunami at Christmas in 2004, many experts believed tsunamis weren’t possible in the Mediterranean Sea or the Indian Ocean. Shortly after the catastrophe, many politicians in Athens promised to spend money on implementing an early warning system. To my knowledge, this never went any further than talks.