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Brrr! Italy's in for a freezing, snowy long weekend

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Brrr! Italy's in for a freezing, snowy long weekend
File photo of snow in Italy: Allie_Caulfield/Flickr
12:47 CET+01:00
Many Italian cities are experiencing their first snow of 2017, along with freezing temperatures and strong winds as an arctic air mass sweeps across the country.

Brace yourselves - Italy's in for a wintery weekend, just in time for the bank holiday on Friday.

From Thursday morning, temperatures across the country saw a sharp drop, with snowfall and below freezing temperatures in towns around the Alps and Appennine mountain ranges in the north and centre-south of Italy.

But for once it was the south of the country experiencing the harshest climate, with below-freezing temperatures and significant snowfall across the region, even at low altitudes

The winter weather is expected to continue until Saturday, after which meteorologists predict frost but calmer weather overall.

The Civil Protection Department issued a warning for adverse weather conditions, urging residents to limit travel and local regions to make sure their emergency plans were ready to be put in place.

"Given the forecast for the next few days and the alerts in place, it is necessary to be prepared for any critical situations which might happen," said the department's head, Fabrizio Curcio.

He noted that local residents and authorities should be on high alert "not only in the areas affected by the earthquakes, which are fragile despite being used to snow, but also in the Ariatic and Ionian coastal areas, where snow is less common."

Its the first time that the mountainous towns of the Macerata region have seen snow since the tremors began on August 24th last year. Buildings in the area are currently being rebuilt, with many residents still living in temporary structures and large parts of the towns still cordoned off.

Amatrice, the town near the epicentre of the first major quake, is experiencing below-freezing temperatures, with -1C on Thursday which could fall as low as -8C on Friday. And there is more snow predicted for tomorrow in the central regions of Molise, Umbria, Abruzzo and Marche.

In southern Italy, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria and Catania are all seeing plenty of the white stuff, and at unusually low altitudes - around 150metres above sea level.

In Calabria, temperatures were at 3C on Thursday and expected to sink to -7C on Friday, with snow showers. Basilicata, which was about 1C on Thursday, could see a temperature drop to -5C.

 

In Campania, the summit of Vesuvius was snow-capped, and it's possible that Naples will also experience snow, though on Sunday it was cloud-covered with heavy rain showers.

There's more snow in store for Calabria and Sicily on Friday, but by Saturday, the snow is expected to ease off and should be replaced with a light frost.

Up in the north, most major cities will have a dry but cold bank holiday weekend.

The Dolomite mountains in the north of Italy saw some snow (10-25cm) and low temperatures. In ski town Cortina d'Ampezzo, for example, the mercury dropped to -7.6C, about 6C lower than the average for the season.

Strong winds also battered the country, reaching 80-100km/h in some northern areas. Lombardy is on high alert for heavy winds, while Lazio, Valle d'Aosta, Piedmont, Liguria and the Veneto are also experiencing strong gusts.

 

The wind means rough seas all around the peninsula, leaving some boat services to the islands disrupted, and travel by road will likely take longer than usual due to the poor weather conditions.

Italy's Motorway Agency on Thursday advised drivers to stay informed of local weather conditions before setting off.

 

 

 

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