Heatwave: Most Italian cities 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.

Colosseum, Rome in the summer heat
Rome will be one of the 22 Italian cities set to be placed on red heat alert over the weekend. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

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 and 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 (meaning no immediate health risk to 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, the anticyclone should begin retreating from the country from Wednesday, July 6th.

Temperatures in line with the seasonal 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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Italy issues storm alert for central and southern regions as heatwave breaks

Many parts of southern and central Italy were on alert for thunderstorms, hail and high winds on Wednesday evening as the heatwave continued to break.

Italy issues storm alert for central and southern regions as heatwave breaks

Italy’s civil protection department issued a bad-weather alert for parts of Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Molise and Sicily as thunderstorms followed days of sticky heat.

While many welcomed the prospect of rain in southern areas after months of extremely hot and dry conditions, the weather has turned from one extreme to the other.

READ ALSO: Italy reports a surge in deaths this summer due to extreme heat

Torrential rain has already caused mudslides and severe damage in Campania, near Avellino south of Naples, while two people drowned in a flooded canal in the northern city of Padua, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

Further storms are forecast across the country this week before another heatwave begins.

There have so far been 1,140 ‘extreme weather events’ in Italy this summer, farmers’ association Coldiretti said on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Will summer 2022 be Italy’s hottest ever?

Along with much of the rest of mainland Europe, Italy has been battered by a series of heatwaves this summer that have fuelled forest fires and drained rivers.

The Po Valley in the north of the Italy, one of country’s most important agricultural areas, is currently experiencing its worst drought in 70 years,

While it’s not yet known if 2022 will be the hottest summer on record, it is on course to be the driest, meteorologists said.