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Sicily Registers Record-High Temperature as Heat Wave Sweeps Italian Island

Sicily Registers Record-High Temperature as Heat Wave Sweeps Italian Island
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Sicily Registers Record-High Temperature as Heat Wave Sweeps Italian Island

Sicily Registers Record-High Temperature as Heat Wave Sweeps Italian Island

The Italian island of Sicily may have set a modern record for the hottest day on record in Europe, with a monitoring station near the ancient city of Syracuse in the southeast recording a scorching temperature of 48, 8 degrees Celsius, or 119.84 Fahrenheit.

The temperature, recorded on Wednesday by the Sicilian Meteorological Information Service for Agriculture, has yet to be verified by the World Meteorological Organization. If confirmed, it would surpass the previous record of 48 degrees set in Athens in July 1977, experts said.

“Sicily is surely experiencing high temperatures,” said Lt. Col. Guido Guidi of the Italian Aeronautical Meteorological Service. But he warned that official records take a long time to verify. Mr Guidi said data recorded by stations across the region needs to be analyzed and validated. Even a minor malfunction, he said, can skew the results.

But Sicilians, long accustomed to the summer heat, do not need an official document to tell them that this hot season has been particularly oppressive.

“We are used to scorching summers, but I have no memory of such unbearable heat,” said Francesco Italia, the mayor of Syracuse, in a telephone interview. “It’s so humid we can’t be outside after a certain time.

Mr Italia said residents were experiencing power shortages due to the large number of air conditioners running day and night. The local Civil Protection Agency was patrolling the territory to help older residents and was on high alert for fires that could escalate into forest fires that ravage the vast arid region each summer.

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“As Sicilians, historically troubled by water shortages, we need to rethink a lot for the next generation,” he said.

Italian firefighters said on Thursday that half of the fires active in the country in the past 12 hours were located in Sicily, where a large area of ​​nature reserve in the northern mountains was burning, killing animals and destroying farms and homes . A young farmer died in a road accident near Catania in eastern Sicily on Wednesday while carrying a water tank to put out a fire.

“In recent years, we have observed more frequent and intense heat waves in Italy,” Antonello Pasini, climate change physicist at the Italian National Research Council, said in a telephone interview. “Like an anticyclone in Morocco which caused very high temperatures in Sicily but also in cities like Bari and Rome.”

Mr Pasini said that summers in the Mediterranean basin were once dominated by what is known as the Azores High, a center of persistent high atmospheric pressure that resulted in mild heat and constantly sunny weather. But in recent years, as global warming caused temperatures to rise, the Azores high has given way to a series of highs from Africa that have moved north and caused intense heat waves. , often followed by heavy rains and hailstorms.

In the Sicilian interior, where it has not rained since April, the heat is perceived as even more intense than on the coast, where a seaside breeze ends up blowing in the evening.

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In the city of Floridia, the urban center closest to the monitoring station which recorded the record temperature on Wednesday, people were doing their best to continue with their daily activities.

“We need to keep the pharmacy door open for Covid reasons, and have five air conditioners running inside to maintain the right temperature for the drugs,” said Giovanna Catania, a local pharmacist.

She said some customers returned shortly after buying drugs because they melted inside hot cars or on walks in the heat.

“We are doing our best,” she said. “But as people, we were not born to live in such heat.”

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