A warm weather current from North Africa is hovering above much of Italy, pushing temperatures to record highs. All throughout central and southern Italy, temperatures are expected to surpass 50-year highs. Daily high temperatures will remain hotter than normal through the end of the new year.
"This anticyclone phenomenon from North Africa is raising temperatures to high levels," said Daniele Cat Berro from the Italian Meteorological Society.
It's the same kind of influence we saw in the summer when temperatures were above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) except that now the tilt of the earth is greater and the sun is lower and so the actual high temperatures are lower.
This year is on pace to be the hottest in Italy since record keeping began in the early 1800s, following an unusually hot and dry summer that left hundreds dead, set records across the country, and slashed the country's overall agricultural output by as much as a third.
Here is a 90 second video summary of climate change since 1850. Notice a pattern?
Low rainfall left major river basins in northern and central Italy dry, and the lack of rainfall combined with unseasonably high temperatures caused a major glacier in northern Italy's Dolomites range to collapse, killing 11 hikers.
The hot and dry summer then gave way to extreme weather in the fall, including severe rain, flash flooding, strong winds, and mudslides. The canal city of Venice was threatened by potential flood waters and saved only due to the "Mose" system of flood gates that went into operation last year.
The European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) said with a month to go in the year, Italy had already recorded five times more extreme weather events than a decade ago. While it is difficult to tie any single weather event to climate change, the frequency and severity of weather events is tied to the changing global climate.
"Weather events that used to take place once in a decade now take place every year, even multiple times per year. Things will not go back to the way they were before. We have to get accustomed to this new reality and be prepared and adapt," Berro said.