The Italian Almanac

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fighting the heat

Italian News - July 27

Violent thunderstorms and gale-force winds hit northern Italy but the rest of the country continued to bake in a fierce heatwave. The ferocious heat has raised urban ozone levels to dangerous highs and drained lakes and rivers, causing severe crop damage and the threat of a crippling drought.

Heavy downpours caused landslides and flooding across Trentino while winds bent lamp-posts and road signs in many parts of the far northern region. A tornado struck Turin, damaging a string of homes and some 50 cars. A chimney of one house was blown off and the roof of another set on fire by lightning, but no one was hurt.

On the heat front, a two-week wave of African weather has caused "incalculable damage" to northern farmland, slashing in half crops of rice, maize, wheat (corn) and vegetables. The water levels in major northern lakes and rivers are continuing to fall, with Lake Maggiore and Lake Como dozens of centimetres down and the River Po reaching a record low at one point.

Piedmont, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Liguria and Sardinia are now in a state of "natural calamity" with millions of euros of damage and lost crops. Further south, the inhabitants of Florence, Rome and Naples have been advised to stay indoors and take precautions for children and the elderly and sick during the hottest parts of the day because of soaring ozone levels which make the air "virtually unbreathable".

The heatwave is expected to keep its stranglehold on the country for the next week at least, occasionally relieved by thundery showers.