The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be the most extraordinary catastrophe Turkey faced last year but 2020 also had more than its fair share of disasters. Official data by Turkish State Meteorological Services (TSMS) show that it was a year with the highest number of “meteorological disasters” since 1940. A total of 984 weather disasters swept the country, and the most common was heavy rainfall and associated floods with 297 cases, followed by 262 incidences of severe storms.
Climate change is the main culprit in the unprecedented rise. The phenomenon also changes the length and impact of disasters, while previously unseen or rarely seen extreme weather incidents are slowly becoming commonplace.
Turkey had 936 weather-related disasters in 2019, but 2020 proved to be worse. After rainfall, floods and storms, hail storms were the next most reported incident. A total of 223 hail storms were reported. Other weather-related incidents include heavy snowfall, lightning strikes, landslides, as well as forest fires stemming from extremely hot weather.
Disasters were most common in summer, in June in particular. Heavy rainfall and floods, lightning strikes and hail storms were more common in June, while severe storms were prevalent most in February.
TSMS data shows most disasters took place in the Mediterranean province of Antalya. It is followed by Van in the east, Kayseri in central Turkey, Bursa in the northwest and then Mersin, another Mediterranean province.