Italy is facing multiple kinds of extreme weather at once, with southern parts of the country scorched by blistering heat, while the north is battered by deadly storms.
On Tuesday alone, extreme weather killed at least six people, according to Italian authorities.
A teenager and a woman were killed by falling trees as severe storms hit northern Italy in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Four elderly people died as a result of wildfires in the southern island of Sicily and coastal city of Reggio Calabria.
Italy’s fire brigade said they responded to 400 emergency calls for fallen trees, roof damage, flooding and broken windows after storms caused widespread damage in the area.
In recent days, northern Italy has been pummeled by severe weather, which has also produced tornadoes and strong winds. Last week, 100 people were injured after tennis ball-sized hail rained down in the Veneto region.
As storms disrupt the north, the south is sweltering under an extreme heat wave.
In some parts of Sicily, temperatures reached 47.4 Celsius (117.3 Fahrenheit) on Monday, edging close to the European temperature record of 48.8 degrees Celsius, set in 2021.
The heat is priming the landscape for fires, which have already claimed at least one life.
Of the four fatalities from wildfires, an 88-year-old woman died outside Palermo, Sicily, a government spokesperson told CNN. The woman, who had serious health issues, died because doctors were not able to reach her due to the wildfires, CNN’s affiliate SkyTG24 reported.
More than 40 fires broke out in Sicily on Monday night, including one at the Bellolampo landfill that produced poisonous fumes, according to the Italian fire brigade.
More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from the affected region and several homes have been damaged.
Palermo’s Falcone Borsellino airport was closed for several hours on Tuesday due to the fires, but reopened later in the morning with flights from major airlines now being allowed to land and take off with major delays.
Most budget airlines have been diverted to Trapani airport, according to the Palermo airport authority.
Sicily’s other major airport in Catania has limited service after a fire in one of the terminals there last week, according to the Catania airport authority. Catania has also been affected by power and water supply cuts in part because of the extreme heat, according to Reuters.
An additional 2,000 people were evacuated from three hotels in the Puglia region as a vast fire broke out in the San Felice bay in Vieste.
Italy’s minister for civil protection and marine policies, Nello Musumeci, said Tuesday that Italy is experiencing very difficult times.
“We are living one of the most complicated days of the last decades: storms, tornadoes, giant hail in the North; torrid heat and devastating fires in the Centre-South. While we mourn the three victims of these twenty-four hours, I feel I have to thank the firefighters, the civil protection managers and volunteers, the police forces, the forestry workers and all those who are mobilized in the most difficult trenches,” Musumeci said in a post on Twitter.
As the human-caused climate crisis accelerates, scientists are clear that extreme weather events such as heat waves and storms will only become more frequent and more intense. A study published Tuesday found that southern Europe’s heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change.
Italy, located in the climate change hotspot of the Mediterranean and surrounded by warming seas, is particularly vulnerable.
“The climate upheaval that has hit our nation imposes a change of pace on all of us,” Musumeci said.