Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bel tempo, mal tempo

On the whole we’ve had beautiful weather (bel tempo) since we arrived in Italy.  In June and July we had an occasional thunderstorm in Bologna, mostly at night.  Sometimes it was quite hot, and we went months without taking a jacket or sweater out of the closet, but we were never inconvenienced by rain.  The same has held here in Rome with clear, bright days, though the change of season has brought cool nights.  However, just over a week ago, on October 20th, Rome was blasted by mal tempo, as a monumental cloudburst (nubifragio) from a strong thunderstorm (temporale) caused disruptive floods (alluvione, inondazione, diluvio) in several parts of the city.  Trastevere and most of Rome got 127 mm (5 inches) of rain in under three hours.  Several Metro subway stations, including the critical one where the lines cross at Termini Station, were closed by water pouring through vents and down stairwells.

Some of the flooding in Rome on October 20, 2011

We’re up quite a bit from those low areas (many were swamps and marshes centuries ago), so we didn’t get that kind of trouble, but water pouring off the Gianicolo hill went racing down our street, and high winds brought down some tree limbs.

A river floods down Via Luciano Manara

Wind-fall on Via G. Mameli at the base of the Gianicolo

What happened here is nothing compared to what blasted the Liguria region of Italy south of Genoa on October 25th.  The beautiful Cinque Terre coastal villages were struck by horrible flooding of water and mud (fango) and landslides (frani).  These pictures from news outlets give an idea of the damage.  Here’s a link to video of the flood through Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the Cinque Terre villages, and you can look at others like it that appear with the link.

This is what Vernazza, one of the cinque terre,  looked like before this week's storm.

Here the flood is in full spate.

These two show aftermath.  Look at the gloop in the railway tunnels.

There have also been floods and landslides down near Naples and snow above 1000 meters up north.  An Italian geologist/climatologist on TV the other day said the increasing amount of extreme mal tempo here is the result of  global warming, and I won’t say he’s wrong.  But today in Rome it’s another bel giorno, high near 21°C (70°F), low tonight 11°C (52°F), some puffy clouds drifting by now and again, and the forecast (previsione) is for more of the same tomorrow.  I’ll take it while I can get it.


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