HEATWAVE: 16 Italian cities on alert with peaks of 43C

Italy's health authorities have issued red or amber alerts for 16 cities on Tuesday as the nation braces for one of the hottest, longest June heatwaves on record.

HEATWAVE: 16 Italian cities on alert with peaks of 43C
A tourist cools off at the Piazza del Popolo fountain in central Rome as Italy is in the grip of another heatwave. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Tuesday marks the longest day of the year, known as the summer solstice, and with it, Italy’s third and hottest heatwave this year has arrived.

As of June 21st, Italy’s health authorities have put 16 cities on red or amber alert as meteorologists warn of “unusually” high temperatures for this time of year.

Cities on the highest red alert over the coming days include Turin, Bolzano and Bologna, according to the latest official forecasts.

READ ALSO: Europe swelters under record-breaking heatwave

Red warnings indicate emergency conditions with possible negative effects on everyone’s health, while amber warns the heat may pose a health risk, particularly to the elderly, children and those with chronic illnesses.

The heat comes as Italy’s third and harshest heatwave of this year sweeps in from northern Africa, pushing temperatures up to 43C-44C in some areas, reports weather site

High temperatures are expected to last for the next ten days, with peaks of 43C in Puglia, 37-38C in Bologna and Ferrara in Emilia Romagna, 41-42C in Caltanissetta in Sicily and Oristano in Sardinia, 38C in Florence and 40C in Cosenza, Calabria.

These mark potential new record temperatures for the month of June, last broken in the sweltering summer of 2003.

Bologna’s high that year was 34C, as was the case for Milan and several cities in Veneto and Emilia Romagna, according to news agency Ansa.

Night-time temperatures are expected to stay high, not falling below 20C for many Italian cities.

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

“Heatwaves occur when there are very high temperatures for several consecutive days, often associated with high humidity, strong sunlight and lack of ventilation. These climatic conditions can pose a health risk to the population,” states Italy’s health ministry on its information page.

“The more prolonged the heatwave, the greater the expected negative effects on health,” it added.

This latest scorching weather has followed a period of high heat, beginning with Italy’s first heatwave of the year in mid-May.

Official Italian government advice for people in areas facing the hottest temperatures include avoiding particularly busy areas, especially for very young children and the elderly.

READ ALSO: ‘Four to five light meals a day’: Italy’s official advice for surviving the heat

Public places such as parks and gardens during the cooler hours of the day are recommended, while heading to crowded places is discouraged.

Strenuous activity is not advised during the hottest times of the day, which are instead best spent “in the coolest room in the house, bathing often with cool water”.

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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 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.