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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

Drought-hit Verona introduces restrictions on using drinking water

The city of Verona, in northeast Italy, announced at the weekend restrictions on the use of drinking water, due to an ongoing drought in the Mediterranean country.

Drought-hit Verona introduces restrictions on using drinking water

“Due to the weather situation and its impact on the water supply, the mayor has signed an order restricting the use of drinking water for domestic purposes,” read a message on the city’s website.

Under the drought order, which lasts until the end of August in the town of quarter of a million people, it will be prohibited to use drinking water to water gardens or sports fields.

The water must also not be used to wash cars or fill swimming pools, with a breach of the rules punishable with a fine of up to 500 euros ($520) in the town famous as the home of the ill-starred lovers Romeo and Juliet.

Municipalities across Italy have begun introducing some form of water rationing after an unusually hot and dry spring sparked widespread alarm.

The Po river, Italy’s longest river and its largest reservoir of fresh water, is suffering its worst drought in 70 years.

The Maggiore and Garda lakes are both far lower than usual for this time of year, while further south, the level of the River Tiber that runs through Rome has also dropped.

Last week, the mayor of Milan announced the northern Italian city’s fountains would be switched off as part of water restrictions imposed due to the drought.

Italy’s largest agricultural association, Coldiretti, has warned that the drought is putting over 30 percent of national agricultural production and half of livestock farming in the Po Valley at risk.

The northern region of Lombardy has called a state of emergency, directing mayors to curtail non-essential water use, such as street washing and watering parks and sportsgrounds.

The weather conditions have also hit Italy’s hydroelectric plants.

Hydropower facilities, mostly located in the mountains in the country’s north, provide almost one fifth of Italy’s energy demands.

But the lack of rain is causing problems, at a time when Rome is desperately trying to wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine.

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