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CLIMATE

Storms in Italy: One dead as Sicily and Calabria on ‘red alert’

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection issued its most severe weather warning for parts of Sicily and Calabria as the south was battered by heavy storms and floods on Sunday and into Monday.

Parts of Sicily and Calabria are under red alert as Italy’s south has been hit by severe storm and floods.
Parts of Sicily and Calabria are under red alert as Italy’s south has been hit by severe storm and floods. STRINGER / ANSA / AFP

The body of a 67-year-old man caught up in flash floods near the Sicilian town of Scordia was found by rescue workers on Sunday while his 54-year-old wife remained missing, reports the news agency Ansa.

The couple had reportedly attempted to flee the area in their car before getting swept away by the rising waters.

The website for Italy’s national fire department reported on Monday that its firefighters had carried out 580 rescues related to the floods in the space of 24 hours, conducting 400 rescue missions in Sicily and 180 in Calabria.

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

The Department for Civil Protection issued the warning on Sunday evening, with the east of Sicily and the south of Calabria placed under red alert.

Other parts of both regions and a part of the neighbouring region of Basilicata have been placed under orange alert (heavy rainfall, landslide and flood risk), with other areas of Basilicata and much of the southeastern region of Puglia on yellow alert (localised heavy and potentially dangerous rainfall).

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.

Green signifies calm and stable conditions, while a red weather warning is issued only in the event of widespread, very intense and persistent conditions that pose a threat to public safety.

A red alert envisages a likelihood of extensive flooding, falling trees, and damage to buildings, infrastructure, and crops. It triggers the automatic closure of schools and the discretionary closure of public institutions in affected areas.

Schools were closed on Monday in the Sicilian cities of Catania and Syracuse and the provinces of Messina, Agrigento, and Enna, reports the Sicilian newspaper Giornale di Sicilia; with many also closed in the Calabrian provinces of Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia, according to the local news outlet LaCNews24.

On Monday the Il Meteo weather news site reported that the cyclone battering the south had increased in intensity and been upgraded to a Mediterranean hurricane, with the potential to reach windspeeds of up to 120 km/h.

The bad weather in the south is expected to last at least into the middle of the week, the site reports, with the centre-north of the country facing the possible threat of heavy storms over the coming weekend due to a developing weather disturbance in the Atlantic.

Earlier this month Italy saw historic levels of rainfall, with three national records broken in the space of a few hours in the northwest of the country on October 4th.

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WEATHER

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 IlMeteo.it, 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.

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