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Italy: Widespread state of emergency imminent as drought continues

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
August 05, 2017, 12:50:25 PM EDT

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Following months of below-average rainfall—or in some locations no rainfall at all—across Italy, many towns are considering extreme measures to aid water conservation efforts.

Rome received only 9 percent of its normal precipitation during the month of June and has received no rainfall since Jun. 30. This has resulted in a devastating drought overtaking most of the peninsula.

Across the country, drought has resulted in agricultural losses exceeding 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

Since July 26, there have been over 1,800 fire alerts, according to the Global Forest Watch. While they are mainly concentrated in the south, dozens have also been reported outside Rome, in central Italy, and Verona in the north.

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A view of the Tiber River, whose level is low due to the drought, during a warm and sunny day in Rome, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Scarce rain and chronically leaky aqueducts have combined this summer to hurt farmers in much of Italy and put Romans at risk for drastic water rationing as soon as this week. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)


There have been incidents of tourists being evacuated from fire-ridden areas including Sicily, the French Riviera and areas around Mount Vesuvius.

In Rome, many public water fountains have been shut off, including the 500-year-old fountains surrounding the Vatican.

Many towns have implemented water rationing techniques, including turning off water for eight-hour periods in alternating neighborhoods. While Rome is trying to avoid this extreme measure, regions throughout the country and even adjacent to the city are considering declaring a state of emergency.

This motion would allow the government to tap into national solidarity funds. The regions of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany made such declarations on Thursday afternoon.

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The forecast calls for dry weather through at least the next week as high pressure remains in place over the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, dangerously hot weather is also in store.

“We expect record temperatures to be broken locally for daily highs with some monthly or even yearly records to be challenged on Friday,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys. “Records will again be challenged across Italy into the Balkans on Sunday.”

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Detailed forecast for Rome
Italy Weather center

In addition to drying out the ground and increasing evaporation from lakes and rivers, high temperatures and plenty of sunshine will continue to heighten the wildfire threat.

The weather pattern isn’t expected to shift anytime soon.

“Extreme high temperatures are forecast to last through at least Wednesday,” Roys said.

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