Italy is currently grappling a third scorching heatwave in two months, with the anticyclone Nero at the helm, prompting authorities to issue red heat alerts for 17 cities across Italy. As temperatures soar to 40ºC, both residents and tourists alike are being advised to take extreme precautions to avoid the potentially life-threatening heat.
The source of this relentless heat, anticyclone Nero, named after the infamous emperor linked to the Great Fire of 64 AD in Rome, is driving up temperatures across Italy, with a red alert demanding everyone, including young, fit and healthy, to stay indoors from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The northern and central regions of Italy have borne the brunt of this heatwave, while the south remains relatively closer to seasonal norms. Popular tourist destinations like Rome and Milan have not escaped the heat’s clutches, with red alerts issued as temperatures flirt with 38°C. Similar warnings are in place for Naples, Genova, and Florence, advising the population to avoid sun exposure during the hottest part of the day.
In addition to Rome and Milan, other cities under red heat alerts include Turin, Bologna, Bolzano, Brescia, Frosinone, Latina, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti, and Verona.
1. Unrelenting heat and humidity
Nero’s influence brings not just high temperatures but also an uncomfortable humidity, leaving many describing the conditions as “unbreathable.” Even during the night, the air remains muggy, making restful sleep challenging. It’s advisable to stay in well-ventilated rooms, use air conditioning, or fans to mitigate the discomfort.
2. When will the heatwave subside?
Thankfully, forecasters predict relief at the end of the week, as thunderstorms with strong wind gusts are expected to sweep in, bringing a much-needed drop in temperatures. Italy has been grappling with extreme weather events recently, including wildfires and elevated risks of heat-related illnesses and fatalities.
3. Staying safe during the heatwave
To stay safe during this oppressive heat, the Italian government recommends staying indoors during the afternoon, keeping well-hydrated, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activities. Travelers are encouraged to wear sunscreen with SPF30 or higher, don hats and loose clothing, consume smaller, frequent meals, and opt for fresh foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s crucial to refrain from alcohol consumption, as it can exacerbate dehydration and heat-related illnesses.
Given the strain that health issues arising from the heat can place on local medical facilities, having comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended.
4. Climate change looms large
Scientists have linked the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves to human-caused climate change. Italy has already endured two heatwaves this summer, with the current one being the third in two months. This year has proven to be one of Italy’s hottest on record, with an alarming average of 11 extreme weather events daily during the first seven months.
Europe is experiencing a stark divide in weather extremes this summer. While torrential rains have drenched Britain, much of the continent is reeling under a relentless heatwave. In southern Italy, temperatures have skyrocketed to an astonishing 48°C, causing power cuts due to damaged underground cables and affecting hundreds of thousands. between 200,000 and 300,000 people were left without power or access to running water in and around the city of Catania.
This scorching heat has also fueled devastating wildfires in Greece and Spain’s Canary Islands, with climate change being blamed for the increasing frequency and intensity of these blazes. Last July, a wildfire on the picturesque resort island of Rhodes forced the evacuation of around 20,000 tourists. 2022 stands as the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record, trailing only behind the devastating wildfires of 2017.
As a high-pressure “heat dome” intensifies across mainland Europe and the Mediterranean, temperatures are expected to soar even higher, with parts of the Iberian Peninsula nearing 45°C and southern France and northern Italy experiencing highs in the 30s to low 40s.