Italy sees hottest temperature in Europe history – why anticyclone ‘Lucifer’ is to blame

BBC Weather: Warm tempertatures to continue across Europe

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Italy is facing blistering hot temperatures like many southern European nations after a heat dome has covered the region. Four people have died in Italy after devastating wildfires burning as a result of the unprecedented heatwaves in southern Italy. Regional authorities in Sicily reported a new Italian and European record temperature this week as a result of a monstrous anticyclone which is driving up the heat.

Europe has been set ablaze after a widespread heat dome caused the worst heatwave in a decade across the continent.

A heat dome is a high-pressure bubble which traps heat within a certain area.

As a result, temperatures across southern parts of Europe have soared to hit more than 40C in many places.

The extreme weather has prompted widespread wildfires across the region, with 2021 considered to be a particularly bad year for these unrelenting flames.

Blazing infernos broke out across many southern European countries, including Spain, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, the scale of the fires across Turkey, Greece and Italy had already burned more than the annual average by August 9.

France and Spain experienced around 200 weekly wildfires during July, compared with an average of 38 and 81, respectively, in the preceding 12 years.

Weather maps from various forecasters reveal temperatures as high as 49C could hit some areas this coming weekend.

Regional authorities in Sicily recorded temperatures of 48.8C on Wednesday as an anticyclone named Lucifer swept in.

If this temperature and anticyclone Lucifer are confirmed, it would be a new Italian and European record.

Anticyclones are areas of high atmospheric pressure where the air is sinking and can cause temperatures to spike.

The scorching temperature was reported near Syracuse and surpassed Italy’s record of 48.5C which was set in 1999.

Syracuse’s mayor, Francesco Italia, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Sicily’s heatwave “worries us”.

He said: “We are devastated by the fires and our ecosystem – one of the richest and most precious in Europe – is at risk. We are in full emergency.”

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On Wednesday, the Met Office said: “Today has provisionally seen the highest temperature ever recorded in Italy.

“SIAS (Sicily’s Agrometeorological Information System) have confirmed that Siracusa in Sicily reached 48.8C earlier this afternoon and if verified by the World Meteorological Organization [WMO] it will become a new European temperature record.”

WMO spokeswoman Sylvie Castonguay counselled caution.

She said: “Extreme weather and climate events are often sensationalised and mischaracterised as ‘records’ before they have been thoroughly investigated and properly validated.”

A spokesman with Italy’s national meteorological service said the result still needs to be validated.

Anticyclone Lucifer was forecast to send temperatures up to 39C to 42C across southern Italy, according to forecasters.

Temperatures are then due to surge across northern areas of the country, with weekend temperatures likely to skyrocket to hit up to 40C in central regions of Tuscany and Lazio, including Rome.

On Wednesday, Italy’s Health Ministry issued its highest Level 3 heat warning for eight cities including Bari, Campobasso, Frosinone, Latina, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti and Rome.

Lucifer has stoked more concerns about further life-threatening wildfires which could break out across southern Europe.

A damning UN report released on Monday revealed the world is already experiencing the effects of climate change and these are set to rapidly worsen in the future.

Italian firefighters revealed they had been involved in more than 3,000 firefighting operations in Sicily and Calabria in the past 12 hours.

Last week, the fire service in the country also battled flames in Gravina, San Giacomo degli Schiavon, Sicily and Pescara.

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