Scirocco: Sahara sand storms set to turn Italian skies orange

The skies over the south and west of Italy are forecast to turn yellow or orange from Wednesday, due to a particular weather phenomenon caused by red sand from the Sahara blowing in.

Scirocco: Sahara sand storms set to turn Italian skies orange

Clouds of desert sand will arrive in many parts of Italy, particularly the western coast and islands, by Thursday according to weather forecasters.

Gusts of hot, dusty air from the south – called the ‘Scirocco’ wind in Italian – are a familiar phenomenon in much of Italy, particularly in southern regions.

This time, clouds of yellow and orange dust are expected to arrive from the west, arriving parts of France on Wednesday before reaching Italy’s western coast and islands.

“Large quantities of desert dust suspended at the highest atmospheric altitudes are ready to reach central and southern Europe after a long journey,” writes, “and therefore also Italy, thanks to the Scirocco winds, intensifying between Thursday 17th and Friday 18th March”.

Dusty skies are already being seen in Alpine regions of Italy on Wednesday morning, according to media reports

Forecasts said the regions most affected by Thursday will include Sardinia, Sicily, Puglia, Lazio, Tuscany, Liguria, and Campania.

The strange weather pattern has already resulted in bright orange skies over Spain this week.

Combined with expected rainfall, forecasters said, the sand is likely to accumulate as reddish dust on balconies, windows and vehicles.

The skies are expected to clear this weekend, with cold air currents arriving from the north from Friday.

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WEATHER: Italy set for another scorching weekend as heatwave continues

African anticyclone ‘Hannibal’ is forecast to bring record-breaking temperatures across the country. Will we witness the hottest May weekend in Italian history?

WEATHER: Italy set for another scorching weekend as heatwave continues

Much to the dismay of many residents already feeling the heat in Italy this week, the African anticyclone known as ‘Hannibal’ shows no sign of letting up. 

The hot air currents sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria have already caused an unusual heatwave, with temperatures rising well above seasonal averages in many parts of the peninsula over the past week.

However, judging from the latest forecasts, it seems like the worst is yet to come. 

READ ALSO: ‘Four to five light meals a day’: Italy’s official advice during a heatwave

According to weather website, the wave of sticky heat, known in Italian as ‘afa’, is expected to reach its peak on Saturday, May 21st: exactly a month before the official start of summertime on June 21st (the summer solstice).

With two days to go until the projected heatwave climax in most parts of the country, experts say the temperatures registered over the coming weekend may break records set in May 2003 – the hottest May to date.

Lorenzo Tedici, a meteorologist with IlMeteo, said: “Our first projection shows that, on Saturday 21st, maximum temperatures in Turin, Milan, Bologna, Ferrara, Palermo and Cagliari may well exceed those recorded in May 2003, which would make the current anticyclone a record-setting one.”

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

So, in short, people up and down the stivale might have the luck (or misfortune – you decide) to witness the hottest May in Italian history. But what temperatures are we talking about, exactly?

It’ll be a weekend of exceptionally high, August-like temperatures, forecasters say, for many locations in the north of the country.

Tuscany and Sardinia will potentially reach temperatures as high as 35°C: some 10 degrees above the seasonal average.

Even mountainous areas at an altitude of up to 1500 metres will likely be affected by the heatwave.

Moving down the peninsula, the anticyclone is expected to bring temperatures of up to 33°C to southern regions by Monday or Tuesday.

According to the latest forecasts, ‘Hannibal’ will keep a tight grip on the country until early next week.

And it’s not just Italy. You may find some solace in knowing that neighbouring France and Spain are also currently sweltering, with both having already registered temperatures of 12°C above average for this time of year.