Saturday, February 07, 2015

Heavy snow batters northern Italy

Friday was a hard day for northern Italy, where many cities woke up covered in snow and had to cope with major traffic disruption and severe inconvenience for the population...

Freezing temperatures, heavy snows and strong winds caused icing highways, blocked rail lines and temporary closure of the Bologna airport. Authorities ordered many schools to remain closed.

"Indeed precipitations were intense in some northern regions, namely Emilia Romagna, Liguria and Piedmont," Colonel Guido Guidi, weather and climate expert of the Italian Air Force, told Xinhua.

Not only many areas were under a thick blanket of snow, but strong wings and coastal storms also added to the scourge of bad weather.

Water city Venice was flooded by tides which reached a height of 124 cm above sea level, according to local reports.

Strong winds toppled trees and made some parts of buildings and infrastructures collapse. Aid squads had to intervene and rescue dozens of people in difficulty across northern Italy.

Civil authorities warned residents in various towns to move to the highest levels of their homes and park vehicles as high as possible, after flooding claimed numerous victims in the past months.

Three elderly people in Lombardy region, of which the capital is Milan, were reported to have died on Friday after suffering heart attacks while removing snow from their homes. Five others were suddenly taken ill.

Guidi underlined, however, that the precipitation was regular.

"We are talking about snow in the winter season. Some Italian media have named this wave of bad weather as 'big snow' but if we look at 1929, when a lot of snow also came down, we can find exactly the same words on the then media reports," he noted.

"Friday's weather was the result of a pipeline of cold air coming from Siberia and the Arctic," a climatologist of the Institute of Biometeorology of the national Research Council (IBIMET-CNR), Marina Baldi, explained to Xinhua.

Baldi expected the weather to improve from Sunday, when the Azores anticyclone, a large-scale circulation of winds typically found south of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, whose effects include clearing skies, will move toward east.

She agreed with Guidi that the wave of bad weather was "not exceptional" but in line with the variability and temperatures experienced in the past, while also mentioning a certain influence of climate change on the milder winters and summer heatwaves registered over the last 10-15 years.

"For the next decades, we can expect an increase of extreme weather events and torrential rainfall within short timespans in Italy, with consequent more frequent flooding," Baldi concluded.

  Source: Xinhua -

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