The situation is “very critical,” Giuseppa Maria Spampinato, a Catania-based government official, told CNN on Tuesday. From his office window, Spampinato said the city’s main street – Via Etnea – looked completely flooded.
On Monday, Italy’s civil protection department issued a red alert – its highest level warning – for flooding in northeastern Sicily and the southwestern region of Calabria. A red alert was issued for a second day on Tuesday due to the expected intense precipitation.
An “area of depression over the central Mediterranean persists and causes disturbed weather conditions in the southern regions of the country,” the Italian government said on Monday.
Heavy rains and strong winds have hit southern Italy since Sunday, with half a meter (nearly 20 inches) of rain reported in the region.
This area of storms will meander south of southern Italy, continuing to rain and gusty winds in the region, then move over Sicily on Thursday, again increasing the chances of heavy rains and strong winds.
Weather models predict 100 to 150 millimeters rain will fall from Wednesday to Friday, with localized areas receiving higher amounts.
The mayor of Catania, Salvo Pogliese, ordered the closure of schools and public gardens on Tuesday due to the situation, according to the website of the Municipality of Catania. Residents are also prohibited from stopping in landslide-prone areas and along the coastal road, due to expected storms of “particular intensity”.
On Tuesday, Italian fire and rescue services, Vigili del Fuoco, said on Twitter that there had been 250 calls due to bad weather in Catania. A search for a missing woman in the town of Scordia in Catania is underway after a man was found dead on Monday, the service said.
The head of the Civil Protection Agency in Sicily, Salvo Cocina, told Reuters on Monday on camera: “Today we continued to search for the missing persons. We have recovered the body of the man, not yet that of the woman.
“This area is about a kilometer from where they left their car. Yesterday 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) of rain fell here, a truly enormous amount. Water flooded the roads and maybe it caused them to panic out of the car, maybe they could have stayed there. And they were carried away by the fury of the water. “
In the region of Calabria, there were 140 interventions in Reggio Calabria, 52 in Cosenza, 49 in Vibo Valentia. More than 300 firefighters are involved in flood-related operations.