HEATWAVE: Italy puts 17 cities on red warning over holiday weekend

From Bologna to Palermo, Italy has issued a weather warning for cities across the country as a relentless heatwave continues to drive temperatures to 40 degrees C and beyond.

HEATWAVE: Italy puts 17 cities on red warning over holiday weekend
Rome is one of the cities on maximum heat warning this weekend. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Fifteen cities are at risk of extreme heat on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest warning: Bari, Bologna, Bolzano, Brescia, Cagliari, Campobasso, Florence, Frosinone, Latina, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti, Rome, Trieste and Viterbo.

Naples and Ancona have also been placed at Level 3 from Saturday – the government’s maximum risk rating for dangerous heat.


Photo by Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP

While Cagliari in Sardinia will pass down to Level 1 from tomorrow, red warnings will remain in place for every other city on the list until at least Sunday, Italy’s Ferragosto public holiday.

A Level 3 warning means “emergency conditions … with possible negative effects on the health of active and healthy people”, according to the Health Ministry. 

In the midst of an anticyclone nicknamed “Lucifer”, several parts of Italy are reporting temperatures above the seasonal average, compounded in some cases by humidity.

Florence is forecasting highs of 38 degrees C on Friday, rising to 39 on Saturday and 40 on Sunday, while temperatures are set to hover in the high 30s in Rome and Bologna.

The heat in Sicily is threatening to break European records, with a blistering 48.8 degrees C reported near Syracuse on Wednesday. If Italy’s national weather service confirms the measurement, it will be the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe. 


Sicily in particular, but also the whole of central and southern Italy and part of northern Italy, is affected by a current of hot air from the Sahara that has caused temperatures to soar.

The heatwave has left the hottest regions at heightened risk of wildfires, especially Sicily and Calabria.

At least four people have died in fires that have swept the peninsula in recent weeks, including three in the Reggio Calabria area who died while trying to save livestock and olive groves.

Italian firefighters continue to carry out hundreds of missions each day as they battle to contain a wildfire season even more destructive than previous years.

Although Italy is no stranger to intense heat, experts say global warming is making heatwaves more frequent and more dangerous.

The Mediterranean has been singled out as a “climate change hotspot”, with increasing temperatures and aridity lengthening fire seasons and doubling the areas potentially burnt, according to a draft UN assessment seen by AFP.

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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.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

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.

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

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.