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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

Heatwave: Most Italian cities set to be placed on red alert over scorching temperatures

The Italian Health Ministry was expected on Saturday to issue a red heat alert for 22 of the country’s 27 biggest cities.

Heatwave: Most Italian cities set to be placed on red alert over scorching temperatures

Caronte (Charon), the subtropical anticyclone that has been pushing temperatures across Italy well above average for over a week now, showed no sign of easing off on Friday.

And, with temperatures up and down the stivale expected to further increase over the weekend, Italian health authorities were expected to issue a red alert for 22 of the country’s 27 major cities.

Red alerts are generally issued in response to critical weather conditions, including temperatures that are regarded as a serious threat to the health of the entire population and not merely of the most vulnerable (i.e. children, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions).

As this map from the Health Ministry shows below many Italian cities – 19 in total – were already on red alert on Friday for high temperatures.

The Italian cities expected to be placed on red alert over the coming weekend were: Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Bolzano, Brescia, Cagliari, Campobasso, Catania, Civitavecchia, Florence, Frosinone, Latina, Messina, Naples, Palermo, Perugia, Pescara, Reggio Calabria, Rieti, Rome, Trieste e Viterbo.

Only five of the country’s 27 biggest cities were set remain clear of the government’s red alert, though temperatures in such urban areas were still likely to be exceptionally high.

READ ALSO: Italian wildfires ‘three times worse’ than average as heatwave continues

Turin, Venice and Genoa were set to be placed on yellow alert (no immediate health risk for the population), whereas Milan and Verona were likely to be issued an amber alert (the heat might pose a threat to the health of at-risk groups).

At any rate, regardless of the type of alert for each individual city, the first weekend of July was set to be a scorching one, with some areas of the country set to see the local thermometer reach 42C.

Once again, central and southern Italian regions were likely to be hit the hardest by the heatwave as experts warned that temperatures will be stably above 35C in Lazio, Campania, Calabria and Sicily. 

In the north, temperatures were forecast to swing between 30C and 35C depending on the area of interest.

So, how long will residents have to put up with the current heatwave? According to the latest forecasts, anticyclone Caronte should begin retreating from the country from Wednesday, July 6th. Temperatures in line with the season average should return in the northern regions first and then in the rest of the peninsula over the following 48 hours.

READ ALSO: Drought hits Italy’s hydroelectric plants amid energy crisis

Alas, unprecedented heatwaves such as the one currently affecting the country will become more and more frequent in the future.

Notably, according to Antonello Pasini, a leading physicist at the CNR (National Research Council), the drastic climate change crisis means that most Italians will be forced to endure summers with “temperatures far above average” in the coming years.

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