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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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WEATHER

‘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.

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