No drought relief in sight as Rome faces water rationing, Vatican shuts off fountains
The Vatican has started switching off its fountains, including two Baroque masterpieces in St Peters Square, to save water amid a prolonged drought. It is Pope Francis's sign of solidarity with Rome where suffocating summer heat has followed two years of lower-than-average rainfall.
There are no signs of the drought ending in Italy in the foreseeable future.
Significant rain is needed to quell the wildfire risk, ease fears of water rationing and allow the Vatican to turn back on its water fountains.
The Vatican turned off its famous fountains for the first time in living memory in efforts to conserve water, CNN reported.
Around 100 decorative and drinking fountains surround the Vatican. Two of these fountains date back 500 years.
One of the twin fountains of St. Peter's square at the Vatican is seen after it was shut down, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Vatican spokesman said on Tuesday that Vatican is shutting off all its fountains, including those in St. Peter's Square, because of Italy's drought. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Some of the 2,500 drinking fountains around Rome were also shut off. Officials will keep a minimum of 85 fountains functioning each day, and the status of the others will be determined “day to day based on the weather and severity of the drought,” CNN stated.
Other efforts to battle the region’s growing water shortage include possible staggered water supply shutdowns across parts of the capital for eight hours daily, according to The Local.
Such drastic measures are being proposed after officials decided to stop withdrawing water from nearby Lake Bracciano, which had dropped to levels low enough to raise environmental concerns.
The shutting off of water fountains and potential water rationing in Rome are just the latest impacts of the drought that Italy has faced so far this summer.
A view of the shore of Lake Bracciano, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) northwest of Rome, Thursday 27 July 2017. Rome area’s governor last week ordered no more water drawn from Lake Bracciano, which supplies much of the Italian capital, raising risk for staggered water supply shutdowns as long as eight hours daily in alternating neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Hundreds of wildfires raging across the country made headlines earlier this month.
“It has been unusually dry across much of Italy since April, especially over the last two months,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.
“It does not help that this month there was a period of time that temperatures across the eastern valleys reached above 35 C (95 F). In southeastern Italy, some locations recorded highs of around 40 C (104 F).”
In Rome, summer is typically a dry time of the year, but the capital started the dry season with a substantial rainfall shortage.
November 2016 was the last month that Rome received close to its normal monthly rainfall. Only 45 percent of the typical nearly 300 mm (12 inches) of rain has fallen so far this year.
The city has not recorded any measurable rain yet this month.
“I expect going through the rest of August for there to be a lack of rain across Italy,” Roys said. “If there is any rain, it will fall across northern Italy and across the Alps.”
“Outside of those areas, a spotty thunderstorm will have the best chance to develop across the Apennines,” he added. “Otherwise, nothing really is likely to develop.”
Heat is the one thing that Roys does anticipate building over the coming days and into the start of August.
“Tuesday and Wednesday, temperatures across the valleys of northern and eastern Italy may make a run between 35 and 38 C (95 and 100 F),” he said. “I would not be shocked to see temperatures try to hit 40 C (104 F) in some locations.”
In Rome, temperatures are likely to climb from seasonable highs of near 30 C (86 F) this weekend to around 33 C (lower 90s F) by midweek.
Soaring temperatures will only further dry out the ground, vegetation and water sources.
Drought also tends to yield higher temperatures as all of the sun’s energy is used toward heating the ground and not evaporating any lingering moisture.Report a Typo
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