Italy has seen record temperatures in multiple cities this summer, resulting in widespread "red alerts" that signify health risks even for young and healthy individuals.
The heat and dry weather have resulted in many wildfires, and the erosion of the country's glaciers. According to Italy's main agriculture union Coldiretti, these conditions have cost Italian farmers at least 6 billion euros in damage to crops.
It is the second consecutive year the country has suffered from a lengthy series of heatwaves and droughts, which have been punctuated by bouts of other types of extreme weather including hail, lightning, tornadoes, flash floods, and wind storms.
“It’s only July now, so we’re worried about what the future holds, also in the long run.”
This weekend, forecasters say much of the country will be hit with intense thunderstorms and hailstorms. Antonio Sano from the weather monitoring site Il Meteo said, "It seems there is very little 'normal' weather this summer ... The weather goes from one extreme to the other."
The country has already seen brief but powerful periods of rain, including a series of storms in the Emilia-Romagna region in May that left at least 15 people dead.
Until the weekend, the heatwave is expected to continue undeterred. As of Thursday, the Health Ministry said that 17 of the country's 27 largest cities -- including Rome, Milan, and Florence -- were under "red alert" for heat.
Meanwhile, four others were classified as "orange," meaning the temperatures represented a health risk for the elderly and those in poor health. The number of cities under "red alert" status will rise to 19 on Friday.
However, by Sunday, temperatures across parts of the north and most of the central and southern parts of the country will be impacted by what Sano called a "thermal collapse," created by weather systems from northern Europe. Nighttime temperatures will drop by around 10 degrees Celsius in much of the country.