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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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WILDFIRES

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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