Italy’s extreme weather new normal – Expert

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Photo dated Aug. 1, 2021 shows forest fires in Pescara, Italy. XINHUA PHOTO

ROME: Amid record temperatures, forest fires, hailstorms, tornadoes and mudslides, Italy is in its worst extreme weather period in recent history. A leading climate expert has warned that the current situation could prove to be the “new normal”.

According to meteorologist Roberto Morgantini, a specialist in extreme weather phenomena, events such as those observed in Italy over the past few weeks have become far more common in the past decade.

“During the 1980s and 1990s, there was an average of one extreme weather event in Italy every month, maybe every two months,” Morgantini told Xinhua. “Now we see four or five a month and many, many minor weather-related events.”

This summer there has been no shortage of events in Italy to illustrate this. Large forest fires raged on the island of Sardinia and in the arid southern and central areas of the country. Elderly and other vulnerable populations have been warned by local officials to stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.

Heavy rains have triggered floods and mudslides in Lombardy and the mountainous region of Trentino, where around 100 guests had to evacuate a hotel when it was flooded by earth and rubble. Dozens of areas across Italy have reported massive hailstorms in recent weeks, with hailstones the size of tennis balls causing damage to cars and other property, as well as to agriculture.

According to the European Severe Weather Database, Italian agricultural group Coldiretti reported earlier this month that the number of ice storms in the country this summer was almost three times higher than a year ago – an average of 11 per day.

Estimates by Confagricoltura, an agricultural sector damage research group, found that total income loss from damage to crops from extreme weather conditions could amount to as much as 2 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion).

“Agriculture is the first economic sector to suffer the effects of the climate crisis this season as fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest after a long year of work and lost investments,” Confagricoltura said in a statement.


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