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Italy's bad weather 'likely to last until end of May'

The Local Italy
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Italy's bad weather 'likely to last until end of May'
Intense rain, hail and strong winds swept northern Italy on Thursday and Friday following days of intense heat. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP.

Italy's recent spell of wet and stormy weather shows no sign of letting up this week - and could last until the end of the month, if not beyond, say meteorologists.

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Forecasts showed a cyclone sweeping in from Tunisia in the early hours of Monday would bring heavy rain and possible floods to Sicily before moving up to the rest of the south and the centre of the country.

Emilia Romagna and Umbria in the centre-north of Italy face a risk of hailstorms, while gale-force winds of over 120km per hour are predicted along parts of the peninsula's western coastline, with possible storm surges in Lazio, Campania and Calabria.

Italy's Civil Protection Department issued a high-level red weather warning for parts of western Sicily, as well as a medium-high orange risk alert for Emilia Romagna.

Lower-level yellow alerts were issued for Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia, and parts of Sicily and Emilia Romagna.

Schools were closed on Monday in the Sicilian capital of Palermo, as Mayor Roberto Lagalla encouraged residents to limit their travel as far as possible and avoid underpasses and watercourses.

Italy has already experienced 89 storms so far in the first half of May, according to the farmer's association Coldiretti, causing damage to crops along the length of the peninsula.

Recent forecasts indicate that parts of the country could receive two months' worth of rain in the space of a few days, bringing the risk of flash floods.

Meteorologists say Italy's unseasonably wet weather is due to the prolonged absence of an anticyclone, which typically brings stable conditions and clear skies.

It was a series of African anticyclones that last year caused a months-long heatwave in Italy that lasted throughout the spring and into the summer.

This absence of an anticyclone is a state of affairs that could persist "at least until the end of the month", according to meteorologist Mattia Gussoni from the weather site ilmeteo - though there will be pockets of calm with higher temperatures.

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In fact, forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts indicate that frequent cool and rainy phases could continue into June and even as far into the summer as August.

Extreme bad weather in Emilia Romagna earlier this month has caused an estimated at one billion euros of damage in the Romagna and Bologna areas, according to news outlets.

Two people lost their lives in the storms, one person swept in a flash flood as he tried to cycle down a path and another after their home was crushed under a landslide caused by the downpours.

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