(CNN) — Southern Italy braces for two more days of devastating rains and flash floods as a ‘medicane’, a hurricane-to-typhoon storm that has flooded streets and killed two people, sweeps across the region.
The president of Sicily (a role similar to that of a regional governor), Nello Musumeci, confirmed the deaths and said a third person was missing on Tuesday evening, while the mayor of the city of Catania urged the residents to stay at home if possible.
“We lived through two very difficult days. We lived through dramatic hours,” Mayor Salvo Pogliese said in a video posted on his Facebook page. He said the weather was “certainly better” on Wednesday, but warned the forecast for Thursday and Friday remained “particularly worrying”.
Red alert in Sicily
Red alerts were issued for Wednesday and Thursday for the island of Sicily and the region containing the city of Catania, which has already been battered by bad weather all week.
The storm comes as world leaders prepare to gather in the Italian capital Rome for a G20 summit. Climate concerns are on the agenda of this event, which will be immediately followed by a critical COP26 meeting in Scotland.
The “medicane” – a hurricane-like storm system that formed over the Mediterranean Sea – dumped a year’s worth of rain on the Linguaglossa region in the space of two days, according to climatological data from the neighboring city of Catania.
The storm is expected to remain in the area through the weekend, with more rain. In Catania, schools and non-essential shops and offices have been ordered to remain closed until Friday.
More than 600 rescue operations have been carried out in Catania over the past day, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The event is not over. Now there is a moment of attenuation, but our weather models tell us that it will return. Complicated hours lie ahead in this area. We expect a significant worsening between Thursday and Friday,” the head of the civil administration said. protection Fabrice Curcio during a press conference in Catania.
Mosumeci described the situation as “very critical” and called the scenes seen across Catania and its province “appalling”.
“The roads have turned into streams” and “the fields into lakes, entire isolated neighborhoods and hundreds of houses flooded, incalculable damage to buildings and crops. Eastern Sicily is experiencing a phenomenon which unfortunately, we fear, will become less and less sporadic, with tragic scenarios destined to repeat themselves,” he said on his official Facebook page on Tuesday.
Medicines and climate change
The “doctors” are produced about twice a year, usually between September and December.
This system is not expected to threaten the G20 talks in Rome, but it adds more urgency to efforts by several countries to commit the world to tougher climate change targets.
Science shows that human-caused climate change is making extreme weather events, including torrential rains, more frequent and intense. The climate crisis is also contributing to swings between droughts and floods in many places, including parts of the United States, such as California, as well as the Middle East and Africa.
As the Earth’s atmosphere warms, it can hold more moisture, which is why the world experiences more precipitation than before. But the climate crisis is also creating longer dry spells, leaving land and soil so dry that it cannot absorb rain as effectively as usual. This combination makes flooding more likely and often more destructive.
With information from Angela Dewan, Sarah Dean and Monica Garrett.