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.
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.”
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.