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WEATHER

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?

Italian heatwave: tourist cooling off in Rome
Italy is set to experience record-breaking temperatures starting from Saturday, May 21st. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

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 IlMeteo.it, 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.

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WEATHER

Italy braces for storms as warm autumn weather ends

A long spell of unseasonably warm weather across Italy is expected to end on Monday, with forecasters warning that a series of storms is on the way.

Italy braces for storms as warm autumn weather ends

A short spell of warm weather in early November is not unusual in Italy – it’s referred to as a ‘St Martin’s summer’ – but this year it has lasted around a month in many parts of the country.

The mild autumn weather is now set to come to an abrupt end as a wave of cyclones will move in from the Atlantic this week, said IlMeteo.it director and meteorologist Antonio Sanò in a forecast on Monday.

The north-west of Italy will see rain on Monday and snow at high altitudes, while showers are expected in central regions.

Weather elsewhere will be changeable, forecasts said, before stormy weather moves to the centre-south by the middle of the week.

READ ALSO: How climate change is creating disputes on the Swiss-Italian border

Conditions are expected to be milder on Thursday before a second cyclone moves in on Friday and Saturday, bringing heavy rain and scattered local thunderstorms to much of the country, Sanò said.

The late arrival of stormy autumn weather will bring temperatures back down to seasonal averages – though sea temperatures remain unusually high, Sanò warned.

This difference in temperatures, meteorologists explain, creates heavy rain clouds bringing the risk of sudden bursts of extreme rainfall; a phenomenon known in Italian as a bomba d’acqua, or ‘water bomb’, which often causes flash flooding.

READ ALSO: Italy records five times more extreme weather events in ten years

Experts say climate change is responsible for changing temperatures which are boosting the intensity and frequency of ‘extreme weather events’ such as floods.

The number of such events in Italy, including droughts, storms, floods, hailstorms, strong winds and tornadoes, has already been 42 percent higher in 2022 so far than last year.

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