Italy set for sunny Christmas with temperatures reaching 25C

Italy is expecting a second Christmas marked by unusually mild weather, with temperatures around 8°C above average for this time of year, forecasters said.

Italy set for sunny Christmas with temperatures reaching 25C
Snow is unusual at Christmas in Italy, but this year the weather is once again likely to be warm enough for outdoor dining in many parts of the country. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

From the end of this week a spell of warm weather will arrive bringing temperatures of around 20-22 degrees Celsius in many parts of the country, said forecasters from the IlMeteo weather website on Tuesday.

“Something very strange will happen from Christmas Eve and then also on Christmas and Boxing Day,” wrote meteorologist Mattia Gussoni.

An unusually warm spell is set to last around ten days, bringing sunny conditions to many regions, he said.

Temperatures are expected to be highest most along the Adriatic coast, across the south and on the major islands, with temperatures of up to 25C forecast in Sicily.

Temperatures in these areas will “​​certainly be more typical of the months of April and May than the end of December,” Gussni said.

The warmer-than-average temperatures were caused by an anticyclone moving in from northern Africa, he explained.

An image showing the anticyclone’s position over Italy during the Christmas weekend. Source: IlMeteo

He said most northern areas could expect temperatures of “a few degrees less, but still around 8 to 12°C” over Christmas.

Areas around the Po Valley and Tyrrhenian coast will see overcast skies and scattered showers, forecasters said.

Rain and cloudy conditions are expected in northern regions on Wednesday, including in parts of Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, before the warmer weather moves in at the end of the week.

A white Christmas is a rare event in Italy, with snowfall recorded at one Christmas out of ten on average since 1980.

But such warm temperatures at Christmas for two years running mark a “significant climatic anomaly, a sign of climate change underway, affecting practically all of Europe,” Gussoni said.

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Italy warns of water shortages after winter drought

Millions of people in Italy could see their water supplies disrupted again this spring, as authorities warned of likely shortages due to the severe drought hitting northern regions.

Italy warns of water shortages after winter drought

Households in some parts of Italy could face having their tap water supply limited in the coming months after dry weather led to a winter drought, Italy’s ANBI water resource association has warned.

“According to the data we have available, it is reasonable to believe that the tap water of at least three and a half million Italians cannot be taken for granted,” said ANBI President Francesco Vincenzi in a report published on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Why Italy is braced for another major drought this spring

He cited data from Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) which said between six and 15 percent of Italy’s population lives in areas exposed to severe or extreme drought.

The worst affected areas are expected to be northern Italian regions including Piedmont and Lombardy, which were among the parts of the country hit by water shortages in spring 2022.

The Italian government will hold a crisis meeting on Wednesday, March 1st, to discuss plans for mitigating the impact of the water shortage, Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

dried-up river

A photo taken on July 5, 2022, shows a dried-up stretch of the Po river in the northern region of Veneto. (Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP)

“The problem of drought is serious,” Corriere quoted Environment Minister Gilberto Pichetto as saying.

“We’ve only had half of the average amount of snow. We find ourselves with watercourses, lakes and reservoirs in a very critical state, and hydroelectric basins in extreme difficulty.”

The head of Italy’s department for civil protection, Nello Musumeci, said Italy needed “a realistic rationing plan”.

In summer 2022, the government declared a state of emergency in five Italian regions after a drought followed by early and particularly severe heatwaves left Italians lakes and rivers parched.

As a result, towns in regions including Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Trentino last summer introduced water-rationing measures ranging from nightly restrictions on tap water to bans on using water for  washing cars and filling swimming pools.

The low level of rain and snowfall this winter has only exacerbated the situation, ANBI said, meaning things could be worse in 2023.

READ ALSO: The three Italian regions hit hardest by the climate crisis

The level of the Po, Italy’s biggest river, was at a record low, while rivers and lakes in central Italy were also under “extreme stress”, it added.

Melting snow is an important source of water for many areas in spring and summer and the lack of it this year is expected to prove problematic.

Alpine snow is Italy’s most important water reserve, since it supplies the Po River basin.

Whether or not Italy will face a drought as serious as last year is expected to largely depend on weather conditions in the next three months, which are usually the rainiest time of the year for many regions in the north.

ANBI said Italy must immediately plug the holes in its aqueducts, which it said lose 40 percent of water to leaks, and build new reservoirs to collect rainwater if it wants to prevent regular water shortages in future.