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Europe's heat wave replaced by downpours

July 29, 2019

Widespread storms and flash floods have killed three people in Italy in the wake of Europe's heat wave. Meanwhile, hail has wiped out crops in Italy and Austria.

Deutschland, hannover: Blitzeinschläge in der Nacht
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Spata

Three people, including an alpine runner, died in severe weather in Italy over the weekend. Lightning stuck as the 45-year-old Norwegian was running in an ultra-marathon high in Italy's Dolomite Mountains on Saturday, reported Italian media. She died later from severe injuries.

A mini-tornado killed a woman motorist near Rome's Fiumicino airport. Winds lifted the 26-year-old's car and smashed it against a railing early Sunday.

Read more: German unions want 'siestas' during heat waves

Flash-flooding near Arezzo, south of Florence in Tuscany, caught a 70-year-old man. His car was found by emergency services in a mud-filled canal.

Whole harvests lost

Worst hit by hail was the Arezzo region.

Italien Unwetter im Norden des Landes
A fuel station near Rome was also wrecked by the tornadoImage: AFP/V. Pinto

Italy's main agricultural body, Coldiretti, said orchards, whole fields of tobacco, sunflowers, and maize, as well as greenhouses, had been wrecked, leaving losses worth millions of euros.

Austria's APA news agency, citing hail insurers, said airborne ice clumps as big as tennis balls pummeled the provinces of Styria, Carinthia and Burgenland.

Losses in cereal and vegetables, as well as to winegrowers also ran into the millions.

Worst-affected on Saturday, said ORF public television, was Styria, where rainfalls flooded roads and filled householders' cellars.

Tirol was left coping with mud and stone landslides.

'Mallorca party' broadcast interrupted

Saturated air — on the tail of Friday's heat wave that brought record 42-degree-Celsius temperatures (108° F) to western Europe — also unloaded downpours over Germany on Sunday.

A thunderstorm over Mainz forced a halt to an outdoor "Mallorca party" broadcast by public ZDF television. Presenters and guests retreated into a makeshift studio.

For the coming week, the German DWD Weather Service forecast temperature highs of between 25 and 31 degrees.

It predicted more storms and hail over Bavaria and parts of eastern Germany.

Nordic 'tropical nights'

On Saturday, Nordic countries experienced searing temperatures with "tropical nights," with Norway recording a record 35.6° C.

On Thursday, the World Meteorological Organization said atmospheric flows would transport heat toward Greenland resulting in "enhanced melting.”

German public ARD television said on Wednesday that the next report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due in August, would itemize climate zone shifts towards the Earth's north and south poles.

ipj/aw (AFP, dpa)