The wettest summer in 35 years

pioggia2014bis Finally, a real summer day and I am heading off to the beach. This summer, these unblemished sunny days have been a relative rarity at least in Rome and much of northern Italy. The fact is that this has been just about the wettest summer for 35 years with an understandably negative effect both on tourism and on the national mood:  July was noticeably rainier than in recent memory meaning there was far less beach-going than in the past and even mountain holidays in August have been characterized by cold and damp.

According to figures from the national research council’s institute for atmosphere and climate sciences (ISAC-CNR), July 2014 was 73% rainier than the July average for 1971-2000.  CNR scientists also report that temperatures were slightly below average. Italy’s center-north, which includes the Dolomites and Tuscany, saw rainfall twice as high as normal, making 2014 the 13th rainiest July in these regions since way back in 1800. Many in northern Italy said it often seemed more like autumn than summer.

Experts say that Italian weather reflects not only the general trend in much of the world towards more extreme weather but that other anomalies also influenced things here this summer. Some blame it on the excessively warm water in the Gulf of Guinea, which interacted with the atmosphere to weaken the high pressure of the African anticyclone that usually brings Italy intense heat. Others says it’s the ‘El Niño’, the cyclical Pacific Ocean weather event that prevented the anticyclone from reaching the Mediterranean and bringing good weather with it and may also have kept the Indian monsoon from appearing and weakened the Azores anticyclone. And, but of course I don’t understand most of this, the African monsoon that pushes the Libyan anticyclone has also been weak, meaning that atmospheric disturbances have tended to stay in the lower Mediterranean instead of shifting north. In fact, this summer, Scandinavia  – to the delight of its inhabitants – found itself treated to the warmest summer in ages with temperatures above 30 °C throughout July, while the Côte d’Azur in France had the same rainy weather as Italy.

There were a couple of good weeks in August where tens of thousands of Italians rushed to the shore, but that didn’t last either. But there’s a good side to all of this, particularly for people like me who don’t  do well in great heat. This has been the coolest summer in decades and is the first summer I remember in which I myself have rarely been seriously uncomfortable. So I’m not very tan this year. Who cares?



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