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CLIMATE CRISIS

Heatwave: What temperatures can we expect in Italy in August?

Italy's health authorities are issuing new weather warnings for extreme heat - but will August bring record-breaking temperatures? Here's what's forecast for the coming weeks.

Heatwave: What temperatures can we expect in Italy in August?
People cool off at the seaside in Ostia on the outskirts of Rome. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

August is here and Italy is bracing for another heatwave after already enduring months of extreme weather.

While heat in August is not exactly unusual, temperatures across Italy are expected to be 10 or even 15 degrees higher than average for the month, meteorologists warn.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

For the coming heatwave, “the peak of heat will reach our country between Thursday and Friday, especially in the northern and central regions and on the Tyrrhenian side, with 39-40°C in the shade likely,” according to weather website Il Meteo.

The most oppressive heat and humidity is then expected to be felt in the south of the country over the weekend, though areas on the Adriatic coast are forecast to be less affected.

Storms are also forecast in Alpine areas and over the central Apennine mountain range by the end of the week.

The Italian health ministry has maximum level ‘red alert’ heat warnings in place already on Wednesday and Thursday for the cities and provinces of Perugia and Palermo, with Rome added to the list on Friday.

‘Red’ heat warnings signify extreme conditions that can be harmful to the health of the general population.

Predictions of 40°C are no longer surprising to anyone, Il Meteo’s forecasters say, “however it is worth remembering that the average climatological values ​​at the beginning of August are much lower”.

READ ALSO: ‘Four to five light meals a day’: Italy’s official advice for surviving the heat

Records from the period between 1971-2000 show Italian cities usually reach maximum August temperatures far lower than those forecast this summer.

Turin and Genoa showed an average maximum temperature of 28°C; Milan 29°C; Bologna 31°C; Florence 33°C; Rome 32°C; 31°C in Naples and Bari; and in Cagliari 32°C.

The hottest local readings (34°C) came from the weather station at Catania Sigonella “in the hot inland areas of eastern Sicily in the province of Syracuse,” Il Meteo explains, “where a year ago, on August 11th, 48 degrees was recorded; 8°C above the previous European record.”

“In short, in practice we’re increasingly reaching temperatures 10°C warmer than the average, locally even 15°C,” Il Meteo writes.

Shut public fountain in Baveno, Milan

Many towns and cities in northern Italy, including Milan, have switched off their public fountains amid water shortages this summer. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

“These exaggerated values ​​are an example of an extreme weather event predicted by environmental researchers; they represent the prediction that numerous industrialised countries have denied for decades.”

Europe has already experienced a series of unusually intense and lengthy heatwaves in June and July, and those extreme temperatures are expected to continue across the continent in August.

“Probably this time Europe will break records for the month, and not the annual values, but the European warm-up will be very important and decisive,” writes Il Meteo meteorologist Lorenzo Tedici.

READ ALSO: How 2022 compares to Europe’s hottest summers

In Italy, the especially hot and dry conditions this year so far have already resulted in the worst drought in 70 years and a wildfire season three times worse than average.

The Italian government has released official advice on preparing for the hottest part of the year.

This includes avoiding going outdoors at all between 11am and 6pm; wearing a light-coloured hat, sunglasses and sunscreen when outdoors; taking periodic showers to reduce body temperature; and drinking at least two litres of water a day.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

MAP: The parts of Italy most at risk from floods and extreme weather

After flooding devastated parts of central Italy on Friday, data has revealed the areas most at risk as such 'extreme weather events' become more frequent.

MAP: The parts of Italy most at risk from floods and extreme weather

After severe storms and flash floods in the central Marche region last week left 11 dead, with two still missing, environmental organisation Legambiente said climate interventions “can no longer be put off”.

“The climate crisis is no joke,” the group said in a press release published on Saturday. “The flooding that hit Le Marche is yet another alarm bell that the planet is sending us.”

IN PHOTOS: Devastation after deadly flash floods hit central Italy

Italy was hit by a total 64 floods between January and September 2022, according to the latest data from Legambiente’s Città Clima (‘Climate City’) Observatory, with some areas worse affected than others.

As the majority of Italy’s floods occur in the autumn and winter, it’s feared that the total figure for 2022 will be higher than for 2021.

Disasters like the one that hit Marche are difficult to predict, but data from the most recent Città Clima Observatory’s report, published in November of last year, shows which parts of the peninsula have suffered the greatest number of extreme weather events since 2010, giving an idea of the areas most at risk.

Data showed these were mainly large cities such as Rome, Bari, Milan, Genoa and Palermo, and coastal areas, particularly the coasts of Romagna, northern Marche, and eastern Sicily.

The parts of Italy that have experienced the most extreme weather events since 2010. Source: Città Clima

Sicily has been the worst-hit region in recent months, battered by eight floods so far this year and 14 in 2021, the Città Clima interactive map shows. Palermo, Catania and Syracuse have each experienced multiple floods in the past couple of years.

Lazio has also been hard hit, experiencing six flooding events so far in 2022 and ten in 2021, the majority of which occurred in Rome.

READ ALSO

Capital city Rome experienced by far the highest number of extreme weather events: 56 in total, of which 13 involved such heavy rainfall it caused damage to infrastructure and 21 necessitated a partial closure of metro lines.

Bari, the capital of Puglia, was the next worst hit, with a total of 41 events, 20 of which were floods and 18 of which took the form of tornados or whirlwinds that caused damage to the city.

Milan experienced 30 events, of which 20 were a result of river flooding.

The metropolitan area of Naples experienced 31 events, 18 of which occurred in Naples itself, while Genoa was hit by 21 events variously consisting of flooding, torrential rainfall and whirlwinds, and Palermo experienced 15.

A total of 132 extreme weather events were recorded in Italy between January and July 2022 – more than the annual average for the last decade, Legambiente reported in its press release.

A flooded field in Sassoferrato, Ancona province, after severe storms on Friday. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

There have been a total of 510 floods in Italy from 2010 to September 2022, 88 of which happened in 2021, according to the organisation’s statistics.

The association urged the government to take urgent action, arguing that Italy is currently the only major European country that lacks climate adaptation plan, which it says has been on hold since 2018.

“There is no more time to waste,” said Legambiente president Stefano Ciafani.

“If the plan is not approved in a very short timeframe, we risk seeing disastrous social, environmental and economic impacts over the next few years.”

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