Scientists and environmental groups in Italy are raising concerns about the possibility of another drought after weeks of dry winter weather.
Last summer, Italy faced an emergency due to drought, and now the Alps have received less than half of their normal snowfall.
This has resulted in Italian rivers and lakes suffering from a severe lack of water, according to Legambiente environmental group, with the focus on the north of the country.
The Po, which runs from the Alps in the northwest to the Adriatic, has 61% less water than normal at this time of year. In fact, the river’s low levels last July led Italy to declare a state of emergency in the areas surrounding the Po, which accounts for roughly a third of the country’s agricultural production.
Climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui from the Italian scientific research institute CNR was quoted as saying that the country is in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021. He added that the northwestern regions of Italy need to recover 500mm of water and that the country needs 50 days of rain.
The situation in Venice is also worrying. Unusually low tides are making it impossible for gondolas, water taxis, and ambulances to navigate some of its famous canals.
A combination of factors is being blamed for this, including the lack of rain, a high-pressure system, a full moon, and sea currents. Meanwhile, water levels on Lake Garda in northern Italy have fallen to record lows, making it possible to reach the small island of San Biagio on the lake via an exposed pathway.
An anticyclone has been dominating the weather in western Europe for 15 days, bringing mild temperatures more normally seen in late spring. However, the latest weather forecasts indicate the arrival of much-needed precipitation and snow in the Alps in the coming days. While this is welcome news, it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to avert another drought in Italy.