One dead in Sardinia as storms batter western Italy

The island of Sardinia and parts of Liguria were on maximum red alert on Thursday as storms swept across Italy's western coasts.

One dead in Sardinia as storms batter western Italy
The floods washed away a bridge in southern Sardinia. Photo: Guardia di Finanza/AFP

One woman was reported dead in southern Sardinia, where hours of heavy rain have swollen rivers dangerously high, flooding houses and sweeping away part of a motorway bridge.

The victim, aged 45, was driving near the town of Assemini with her husband and three children when high water blocked their car. They became separated as they tried to escape and while the rest of the family was rescued by police, the woman's body was recovered on Thursday.

Part of a state road that runs over the Santa Lucia river collapsed on Wednesday, cutting the highway in two. No cars were on the bridge, which links the capital Cagliari to the town of Capoterra, at the time: it had been closed to traffic as a sink hole opened up earlier in the day.

Photo: Vigili del Fuoco/AFP

One woman in labour had to be flown to hospital as the roads remain impassable, police said.

More than 100 firefighters were at work around in the Cagliari area to rescue people trapped, with some people taking shelter on the roofs of their homes or vehicles.

At least one person, a shepherd, is reported to be missing.

Across the southern half of the island, schools, public offices and parks were ordered closed throughout Thursday, while trains from Cagliari were cancelled.

Similar precautions were in place on the mainland in Liguria, where the provinces of Imperia and Savona are on red alert and the rest of the region on orange. 

Fierce storms were expected to batter north-west Italy throughout Thursday, with heavy rain, strong wind, hail and thunder on the forecast.

The bad weather is expected to reach parts of Piedmont and Lombardy, as well as the Tuscan coast and Emilia-Romagna. The coast of Lazio, the region of Rome, has also been placed on yellow alert, as have parts of Sicily and Calabria in the south, where floods last week claimed the lives of a mother and her young son.


Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

Temperatures are set to rise dramatically across Italy this weekend as the country prepares for its first real heatwave of the year, meteorologists said on Friday.

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

People across Italy are preparing to head to the beach this weekend with unseasonably hot weather predicted to last for several days.

The heatwave is caused by an anticyclone named  ‘Hannibal’ sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria, bringing hot air currents across the Mediterranean and as far north as Denmark and Poland, reports news agency Ansa.

Temperatures are forecast to rise above 32-33°C in parts of the Italian north including Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna, before the heatwave expands towards the centre and south of the country over the course of the weekend.

The weather is already 8°C above the seasonal average for this time of year, according to Antonio Sanò, founder of the Italian weather site, and temperatures could rise by as much as 10°C.

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In a typical year these kinds of highs wouldn’t be seen until July, Sanò said.

The incoming heatwave will be particularly humid as the anticyclone is carrying moisture from the Mediterranean sea, according to IlMeteo.

However, the relative cool of the Mediterranean basin at this time of year will contain the heat and keep the temperatures from rising into the high 30s, as would happen if the same type of weather event occurred in August.

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The heatwave will stretch over the weekend and continue into next week, peaking on Tuesday, according to weather reports.

Patchy thunderstorms typical of midsummer weather are anticipated in the Alps and the Po Valley, while the centre-south is set to experience hot and sunny conditions bar some isolated storms in the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday.