Northern Italy counts storm damage as bad weather moves south

Severe storms that left two dead and dozens injured in the north of Italy began to calm on Friday, leaving residents and emergency services to assess the damage.

Northern Italy counts storm damage as bad weather moves south
Firefighters recover a souvenir stand blown into the Grand Canal in Venice by strong winds on August 18th. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Tuscany was among the worst-hit areas, with two people reported dead and at least a hundred evacuated on Thursday.

Liguria’s coastline meanwhile was “heavily hit”, local mayors said, with homes, beach clubs and other businesses badly damaged and a major railway line temporarily closed.

READ ALSO: Two dead as northern Italy battered by severe storms

Residents of Venice were cleaning up on Friday after strong winds and heavy rain damaged homes and businesses, and even the iconic St Mark’s belltower.

Tourists were evacuated and parts of central Venice cordoned off late on Thursday as strong winds upended cafe tables and swept away umbrellas in St Mark’s Square, and the city’s famous newspaper kiosks were knocked over or damaged.

St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Two people were reported injured, one at St Mark’s and the other at the Lido, where beach clubs also suffered extensive damage.

Authorities in Rome were bracing to deal with further storm damage across the country on Friday, warning people to be cautious as the wave of bad weather spread across the country,

The extreme weather was caused by masses of low-pressure air moving south, Italy’s Department for Civil Protection said.

In an update published late on Thursday, the department said “the development of new intense thunderstorms” in the north and centre of the country “remained possible” throughout the day on Friday.

As a result, authorities issued an amber alert for the regions of Lombardy and Veneto for Friday, August 19th, whereas a lower-level yellow storm alert was in place for the rest of the north and centre of Italy.

“At the same time, the tail of the perturbation will lead to an unstable transit, with less widespread but intense phenomena,” the civil protection department said.

Storms may also affect parts of the centre and south, it said, particularly “Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo and Sardinia, where scattered thunderstorms may develop, with showers of rain or hail, electrical activity and gusts of wind”.

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

Italian environmental group Legambiente said on Friday 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.

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

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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.