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CLIMATE

Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The climate crisis is causing serious problems for Italy's biggest cities and extreme weather events are going to become more frequent, according to a new report.

Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves
A file photo from November 12th, 2019 shows flooding during an exceptionally high 'acqua alta' in Venice.Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Anyone who was in Italy throughout this year’s long, hot summer may suspect that heatwaves are becoming a more frequent occurrence.

And residents of the lagoon city of Venice will no doubt be able to attest to the devastating impact of serious floods, as well as to the fact that such events appear to be becoming increasingly frequent.

In fact, a new study by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) has confirmed that the incidence rate of both heatwaves and floods in Italy has increased significantly – and is only expected to keep rising.

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

The report stated that average temperatures have risen overall in the last 30 years and continue to rise in all cities.

“Risks associated with climate change affect all Italian regions and their economic sectors,” the study’s authors stated. “Despite contrasts, with different areas being affected in different ways, there are no regions that can be considered immune from climate risks.”

The report found that the southern city of Naples had experienced the biggest increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves.

Heatwaves fuelled the most destructive fire season to date in Italy this summer Photo: Nicolas TUCAT/AFP

The southern city has in recent years reported an average of 50 more intensely hot days per year than it did at the beginning of the century.

The same figure for Milan was +30 days, Turin +29 and Rome +28. 

Although extreme weather events have always existed and Italy is no stranger to intense heat, numerous studies have found that the climate crisis is making heatwaves more frequent and more dangerous.

Meanwhile, in Venice, over the last 150 years the relative water level of the city has risen by more than 30 centimeters, and the critical threshold has been exceeded 40 times in the last 10 years, the CMCC found..

The report also warned that the city of Bologna could expect to see an increase in the intensity and frequency of flooding in the future.

READ ALSO: Floods in Italy: What to do when there’s a weather warning

It added that “all scenarios” showed an increased risk of heatwaves and urban flooding in the coming years.

In 2019, Rome was found to be the city in Europe most at risk of flooding, according to water monitoring authorities.

“There are parts of Rome that can’t withstand a heavy downpour,” said the Central Apennines District Basin Authority.

Rome’s soft soil and famous hills make it naturally vulnerable to erosion and mudslides, while the authority said poorly maintained sewers, waste dumping and vegetation blocking the course of the Tiber and Aniene rivers were contributing to the flood risk.

Previous studies have also found that Rome suffered the highest number of extreme weather events overall in recent years.

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CLIMATE

Central and southern Italy brace for storms and heavy snow

Storms and snowfall are forecast across much of central and southern Italy over the next few days, according to weather reports.

Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy.
Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Italy’s Civil Protection Department on Monday issued ‘orange’ alerts for bad weather along Campania’s Tyrrhenian coastline and the western part of Calabria, while Sicily, Basilicata, Lazio, Molise, Umbria, Abruzzo, central-western Sardinia, and the remaining areas of Campania and Calabria are under a lower-level ‘yellow’ weather warning.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is warning Italy’s central-southern regions to prepare for a blast of polar air from the Arctic Circle that will bring heavy snowfall, rain and storms, reports national weather forecaster Il Meteo.

The village of Grotte di Castro in the province of Viterbo, two hours’ drive north of Rome, mountainous parts of Sardinia, and much of the province of Campobasso in the central-eastern region of Molise were already blanketed in snow on Monday morning.

The department is responsible for predicting, preventing and managing emergency events across the country, and uses a green, yellow, orange and red graded colour coding system for weather safety reports.

An orange alert signifies a heavy rainfall, landslide and flood risk, while a yellow alert warns of localised heavy and potentially dangerous rainfall.

The current meteorological conditions mean that snow is expected to reach unusually low altitudes of around 450-500 metres, with flakes already falling thickly on parts of the southern-central Apennines mountain range at 500-700 metres altitude.

The hills of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio, Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Basilicata are likely to see heavy snow around the 500m mark, while areas at an altitude of 1000m or higher will see between 50-60 cm of fresh snow.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO /AFP

In areas where the snow is unlikely to reach, heavy rains and thunderstorms are anticipated, with rain forecast throughout Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Lazio, reports Il Meteo.

Strong winds are forecast over the whole country, with the island regions of Sicily and Sardinia facing windspeeds of over 100km/hour and the risk of storm surges, according to the national newspaper La Repubblica.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The north of the country, meanwhile, will see sun but low temperatures of below 0°C at night in many areas, including across much of the Po Valley.

While conditions are expected to stabilise on Tuesday, cold currents from Northern Europe are forecast to trigger another wave of bad weather on Wednesday and Thursday, with Sardinia and Italy’s western coastline again at risk of storms and heavy rainfall that will move up towards Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto in the north.

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