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HEATWAVE

Italy’s heatwave to last another week and get even hotter, say forecasts

With extreme heat causing severe drought and blackouts in northern Italy this week, temperatures are expected to soar further in the coming days.

Italy's heatwave to last another week and get even hotter, say forecasts
The dried-up bed of river Po in Boretto, northeast of Parma, on June 15th, 2022. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

With thunderstorms in mountainous areas of northern Italy on Thursday, there are hopes that we could soon see the end of the blistering heatwave that has brought temperatures up to the high 30s and low 40s this week.

But stormy conditions are not expected to cool things down, with forecasters at weather website IlMeteo.it warning that “maximum temperatures are seeing slight and temporary decreases, but the relative humidity, and therefore the heat, is increasing” in northern areas.

Meanwhile, the south and centre of the country continues to swelter in still, humid conditions, with temperatures in the high 30s expected throughout the weekend.

Weather forecasters warn that the heatwave is set to continue until the end of the month.

Temperatures of “up to 40°C in the shade” can be expected across much of Italy early next week, according to forecasts in newspaper La Repubblica on Thursday.

Drought in Italy: What water use restrictions are in place and where?

The Italian health ministry has issued red alerts for extreme heat on Friday and Saturday in and around the cities of Bologna, Campobasso, Florence, and Pescara.

Lower-level amber or yellow heat alerts were issued for Friday and Saturday in almost every other part of the country, except Turin and Genoa.

While the most extreme temperatures are being seen in the southern and island regions of Italy – particularly in Sicily, Puglia, and Sardinia – the north of the country has suffered badly with drought and power outages due to the heatwave. 

The Italian government is set to announce a state of emergency in the regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, which are suffering the most severe drought seen in 70 years.

In Milan and Turin, a massive increase in electricity usage for cooling day and night has pushed the electricity grid beyond its limits over the past week, leading to blackouts.

Until a few years ago, the typical maximum temperatures in Italy at the end of June would be around 26°C in the north, 27 in the centre and 28 for the south, according to IlMeteo.it.

With many parts of Europe experiencing unusually high temperatures for this time of year, experts have repeatedly warned that the increase is caused by global heating.

“As a result of climate change, heatwaves are starting earlier,” said Clare Nullis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.

“What we’re witnessing today is unfortunately a foretaste of the future” if concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise and push temperatures towards 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, she added.

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HEATWAVE

Will summer 2022 be Italy’s hottest ever?

As the country prepares for yet another heatwave, we look into whether summer 2022 might go down as the hottest summer in Italian history.

Will summer 2022 be Italy's hottest ever?

August is here and, alas, the heat is back on. 

After enduring months of exceptionally hot weather, Italy’s residents are bracing for yet another heatwave as meteorologists say temperatures this month might be 10 degrees higher than seasonal averages.

At this point many might be wondering whether the summer we’re living through (or surviving, you decide) might be one of, if not the hottest in Italian history. 

The short answer is: it might be but it’s far too soon to tell since, from a meteorological standpoint, summers consist of June, July and August and the latter month has only just started. 

But we can already start drawing a comparison between the current summer and the hottest summer in Italian history, the sweltering estate 2003.

For those who might not have been around then, summer 2003 brought four months of far-above-average temperatures without so much as a let-up to ‘break’ the heat. As a result, summer 2003 literally smashed each and every one of the previous records and earned the title of hottest Italian summer ever.

READ ALSO: Heatwave: What temperatures can we expect in Italy in August?

Tourists cooling off in Rome, Italy

Italy’s mean temperature in August is expected to sway between 2 and 3°C above season average. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

So far summer 2022 appears on track to give its infamous 2003 counterpart a run for its money.

Granted, in June 2022, the national mean temperature was 2.88​​°C above average, whereas the same value was 3.44°C above average in June 2003. 

But, while the country’s mean temperature was 1.59°C above average in July 2003, July 2022 registered an impressive +2.26°C in the same category.

So, all in all, it seems like the contest is bound to go right down to the wire, with temperatures in August set to determine whether summer 2022 will eventually be crowned as the hottest summer ever. 

Michele Brunetti, Chief Researcher at the Italian Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC), tells The Local: “August 2003 registered a significant anomaly – the national mean temperature was 2.71°C above average. We’ll have to wait and see whether this month’s temperatures will exceed those recorded in August.

“It would surely be quite extraordinary [if they did].”

Difficult as it may be, forecasts project that the country’s mean temperature will sway between 2 and 3°C above average in the coming weeks, so there might be just enough margin for summer 2022 to become the hottest ever (not that we hope it does, obviously).

The dried-up banks of the Po river in Italy

Thus far, 2022 has been the driest year in Italian history. Above are the dried-up banks of Italy’s longest river, the Po. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Meanwhile, 2022 may also be able to break another undesirable record and go down in history as the driest year ever – or, at least, since 1800, when records started.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Po Valley rations water amid worst drought in 70 years

So far this year, up until the end of July, rainfall across the country has been below average by as much as 46 percent (-52 percent in the north and -42 percent in the centre and south), making the first seven months of 2022 the driest in Italian history.

The amount of rainfall in the coming months will determine whether 2022 as a whole will beat out the current record holder, 2017 – something Brunetti says is likely to happen.

It would be no surprise given that the country is currently experiencing its worst drought in 70 years.

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