The Italian Ministry of Health issued the maximum level three, or red alert, weather warnings as Italy's heatwave intensifies towards the end of the week.
The ministry placed bollini rossi, or red dots, on areas with “high risk conditions that persist for three or more consecutive days”
- On Friday 31st a total of ten cities are under red alert: Rome, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Campobasso, Pescara, Rieti, Frosinone, Bolzano and Perugia.
- By Saturday August 1st, the warning is extended to 14 cities with Brescia, Latina, Verona and Viterbo added to the list.
The maximum heat warnings cover much of the north and centre of Italy, while the heat in southern areas is expected to be less severe,
Source: Italian Ministry of Health
Southern cities had initialy been expected to bear the brunt of the heatwave when it was forecast earlier this week.
But the latest government bulletins show no weather warnings for Naples, while the cities of Bari and Palermo are on yellow (level one) alert, signalling “meteorological conditions that can precede the occurrence of a heatwave”.
So while conditiosn will be sweltering across the country in the coming days, things should be slightly more bearable in those areas.
Screenshot showing part of the forecast for the end of this week. Source: Italian Ministry of Health
But level two amber alerts are in place for much of the country by weekend, meaning those areas should expect “high temperatures and meteorological conditions that can have negative effects on the health of the population,” particularly on the elderly, young children, and other vulnerable groups.
See the full list of weather warnings here.
Weather forecasts predict the heat will break by Monday in many areas, with thunderstorms and rain expected as temperatures drop again in parts of northern Italy, particularly over the Alps.
For now, the stifling conditions in many areas will also worsen air pollution, the ministry warned, meaning that those with respiratory problems or allergies are also liable to suffer.
But even those in good physical health are at risk of dehydration, sunstroke, sunburn and exhaustion.
The health ministry is urging people to take precautions including staying indoors in the afternoon when the heat is most intense, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding physical exercise during the day. It also asks people to check on neighbours living alone.
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The government has urged people not to call the emergency services unless essential, to avoid overstretching resources needed for an expected increase in the number of emergency cases.
The Italian Red Cross has set up a 24-hour hotline that people can call for free for advice and assistance: 800 065 510.
During Italy's heatwave of 2015, so many people died that it lowered the country's average life expectancy that year. And in 2003, Europe's worst heatwave in decades killed 18,000 people in Italy alone.