Italy's 'Week of Hell' Reaches Its Apex

Some 23 cities are on red alert due to the heat
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2023 10:32 AM CDT
Italy's 'Week of Hell' Reaches Its Apex
Tourists suffer from heat as they visit Palermo, Sicily, during a hot day with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, Sunday, July 16, 2023. Temperatures are expected to reach new record highs this week.   (Alberto Lo Bianco/LaPresse via AP)

Europe is baking yet again on Wednesday, with the BBC putting a spotlight on Italy and its "settimana infernale," as the media are calling it: The "week of hell." In that country, 23 cities—"from Trieste in the northeast to Messina in the southwest"—are experiencing ferocious heat, with the red alerts meaning all residents, not just vulnerable ones, could be endangered by the temperatures. Rome logged a record-high temp of 107.2 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, a figure that will be dwarfed by the temps expected Wednesday on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, which could near 117 degrees.

Sicily set what is believed to be the highest recorded temperature in Europe on July 17, 2021, when it hit 119.8 degrees in Syracuse, reports the Guardian. Red alerts are also in effect for parts of Spain, Greece, and the Balkans, but relief is expected to start to come Thursday, at least for northern Italy, where six red alerts are due to expire. Writing for CNN, Silvia Marchetti reports on what she's experiencing in a town about 15 miles north of Rome. "It's not just the unbearable heat flattening you to the ground—it's the nasty smell of it that lingers in the nostrils. It's a pungent, suffocating odor of dry grass ready to burn."

She notes that Italian weather forecasters have given this particular heatwave the name Charon, who in Greek mythology ferried souls to the underworld. "But we are struggling in this hellish heatwave more than ever," she writes. "What is most frightening is there is no escape: the hills, coast and mountains gave some respite with their fresh breeze. But now it's just like being stuck in a city, with heat oozing out of pavements and bouncing off walls. The solace of shade is gone." (More Italy stories.)

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