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Luigi Costantini/AP

Extreme Weather Conditions Still Plaguing Italy

December 15, 2008 12:01 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Torrential rains, record snowfall and hail have combined to give Italy some of its worst—and most destructive—weather in decades.

Torrential Rains Drench Rome

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As some of the heaviest rains in more than a century pour down on Italy, Rome and Venice are facing extreme flooding issues, according to Bloomberg.

Rome declared a state of emergency after the death of a woman who was trapped in a car in a flooded underpass. Firefighters have rescued dozens of people stuck in their cars and on the ground floors of some buildings. People have been advised not to travel by car unless absolutely necessary.

Meanwhile, Venice is slogging through its highest tides in 22 years.

Venice has a well-documented history of flooding troubles. Decades ago, the church claimed it was because the pope "had been locked into the Vatican City after the unification of the country," according to Bloomberg.

Climate change is considered the primary culprit for weather problems today.

But flooding issues aren't the only problems facing Italy. "The situation in Rome is critical, but the weather conditions tell us we need to keep an eye on the south too," spokesman Gennaro Tornatore told USA Today. Bad weather is spreading across the country. On Mount Etna in Sicily, record snowfall has left eight Boy Scouts stranded.

Background: Flooding in Venice

Earlier in December, heavy winds caused Venice’s renowned canals to breach their banks, leaving parts of the city under as much as 1.56 meters (5 feet, 2 inches) of water. Waters quickly receded due to shifting winds; however the city’s residents and tourists were left to deal with the flood’s rank aftermath.

City officials sounded sirens and announcements via loudspeakers warning Venetians and visitors not to leave their homes or lodging. Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari told prospective tourists to rethink plans to visit the city.

The famed Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Place, was under some one meter of water. Raised wooden walkways were constructed around the city; however photographs showed tourists and residents slogging through water as deep as their waists.

“The residents who live on the ground floor are pumping out the water from their houses with buckets,” Venice resident Hanna McShane. “The water is highly polluted and is beginning to smell, as well as leaving behind rubbish of all kinds on the street as the water levels decrease.”

Venice has an annual average of 200 days of flooding, but the city has not seen waters at these levels since 1986, when canals crested at 1.58 meters. Other severe floods occurred in 1979, when waters reached 1.66 meters as well as in 1966, when waters got as high as 1.94 meters, rendering 5,000 people homeless.

To mitigate flooding, city officials are working to have an underwater dam completed by 2011.

Related Topic: More extreme weather

In Siberia, where cold is to be expected, locals are preparing for the weather to get even chillier than usual. The Yakutia region generally experiences temperatures of minus 40 degrees Farenheit overnight, but some towns could reach minus 76 degrees Fareinheit as polar air masses move into the area.

If that’s not cold enough, two towns in Yakutia are battling for the title “the North Pole of cold,” boasting record low temperatures of minus 89.9 degrees Farenheit and minus 90 degrees Farenheit, according to the Russian News & Information Agency RIA Novosti.

Reference: What causes extreme weather?

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