Weather: Central and southern Italy on storm alert as temperatures drop

Many parts of Italy were on alert for severe storms on Thursday, with temperatures set to fall and more bad weather predicted across the country over the weekend.

Weather: Central and southern Italy on storm alert as temperatures drop
Bad weather is expected across much of Italy on Thursday, particularly in coastal areas of the south and centre of the country. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Temperatures are expected to fall by up to eight degrees in many parts of central and southern Italy as September begins with the weather taking a turn for the worse.

Violent thunderstorms will spread south from Emilia-Romagna on Thursday, the national civil protection department said.

Storms are forecast to hit early on Thursday in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise and Campania, and then spread to Puglia, Calabria, Basilicata, and northeastern Sicily.

There will be “intense downpours, frequent electrical activity, hailstorms and strong gusts of wind”, the department said.

“There will be very intense localised weather phenomena, especially along coastal areas,” it predicted.

Thunderstorms and colder temperatures are then expected in the centre-north of Italy over the weekend, according to forecasts from weather website Il Meteo.

Unstable weather is expected across the country for the next few days, as cold air masses move in from the Atlantic while the seas remain warm, meteorologists said.

Emergency services are bracing for further flooding and storm damage less than two weeks after a wave of extreme weather swept across northern parts of the country.

Experts say climate change is boosting the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires.

READ ALSO: Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Italian environmental group Legambiente said in mid-August the number of such extreme weather events has surged in Italy, with 132 in the last six months alone – the highest average figure in the last decade.

“Italy is ever more subject to extreme climate events” because of global heating caused by human activity, the group said.

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‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

Northern Italy woke to freezing temperatures on Friday while Vesuvius was dusted with snow as long-delayed winter weather arrived in Italy.

‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

A cold front arriving from northern Europe brought temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius in the eastern Alps in the early hours of Friday, while minus 14 was recorded in Garfagnana, and minus 5 in Milan, Turin and inland Sicily.

Snow also fell at higher altitudes in the south overnight, with local residents capturing images of Vesuvius covered in a dusting of snow.

“Winter is starting,” Claudio Cassardo, climatologist at the University of Turin, told newspaper La Repubblica on Friday.

“We will return to normal seasonal temperatures. However, we’re no longer used to the cold and snow”.

While the north in particular shivers in freezing temperatures and snow was forecast for many areas, including at lower altitudes, central and southern regions were warned to expect heavy rain and stormy conditions from Friday and into the weekend.

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection issued a lower-level alert for storms on Friday in parts of five southern Italian regions, including Basilicata and Calabria, and a medium-level amber alert for Campania, where the agency warned of a risk of hailstones and flash floods.

Showers, strong winds and thunderstorms are expected to spread further across the centre-south and to the Adriatic coast by Saturday, when temperatures are again forecast to drop below zero in inland parts of the centre and north.

Weather website Meteo3B predicted temperatures would drop to 0-1 C across much of the north overnight and in the early morning on Saturday.

Forecasts showed the mildest temperatures in the coming days would be in the southeastern region of Puglia and along the southern coasts of Sicily and Calabria, where a steady 8-10 degrees Celsius is expected over the weekend.