Italy warns of extreme heat peak as temperatures soar

A little girl wets her hat because it is too hot in the Elephant Fountain in Piazza Duomo while her father wets his head on July 15, 2023 in Catania, Italy.Fabrizio Villa | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesMeteorologists in Italy on Monday warned that a period of fierce heat is expected to peak in the coming days, shortly after policymakers issued hot weather red alerts for 16 cities nationwide.The capital of Rome, Florence and Bologna are among some of the areas affected by an intense and prolonged heatwave.The red alerts mean that even healthy people could be at risk from the extreme weather conditions and the Italian government has advised those in the alert areas to avoid direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time.It comes as temperatures approach record-breaking levels in countries across southern Europe, with forecasters warning the highest level ever recorded in European history could be topped.”The African anticyclone continues to dominate the weather scenario, with a heat wave destined to persist for many more days,” Italian weather news service said on Monday. “Temperature peaks that could exceed historical records, especially in central-southern regions.”The hottest temperature thought to have ever been recorded in Europe was 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.84 Fahrenheit) near the ancient city of Syracuse on the coast of Sicily in August 2021.Scientists at the European Space Agency, which monitors land and sea temperatures, believe the record could be broken again in the coming days.View of the fire from an evacuated population center, on 16 July, 2023 in Puntagorda, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.Europa Press News | Europa Press | Getty ImagesResearchers say global heating is strongly increasing the odds of heatwaves such as the one currently sizzling across Europe.Spain and Greece have both been affected, while dangerously hot conditions have also swept across Asia and parts of North America.Record-breaking said the “peak of the heat is coming” between Monday and Wednesday, with temperatures likely to hit 40 degrees Celsius in northern Italy, and as high as 46 degrees Celsius in the inland areas of central and southern Italy, as well as on main islands.The country’s weather news service also warned of “persistent levels of discomfort and heat stress,” adding that in the hottest areas, temperatures would likely not drop below 25 degrees Celsius even at the coolest time of the day.The Italian Meteorological Society told CNBC last week that “the wide-scale meteorological configuration is quite similar to the one that brought the exceptional value of 48.8 [degrees] C in Sicily on 11 August 2021.”In Spain, meanwhile, the national meteorological service said temperatures could exceed 42 to 44 degrees Celsius in some areas over the coming days. Thousands of people in Spain’s heat-stricken Canary Islands were urged over the weekend to evacuate their homes as emergency workers sought to bring a wildfire under control.Elsewhere, Greece closed the Acropolis, one of its top tourist attractions, on Friday and Saturday as the southern European country baked in the extreme heat.Climate scientists say that the recent spate of global heat records is yet further proof of the pressing need to slash greenhouse gas emissions fueling the climate emergency.The World Meteorological Organization, the U.N. weather agency, recently warned that the combination of ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the return of El Niño is likely to mean the worst is still to come.

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