Heavy rains, high winds, mountain snowfalls plague Italy

Storm system Medusa sweeping across entire peninsula

Heavy rains, high winds, mountain snowfalls plague Italy

Rome, November 28 - From dangerously high winds in the south, to snow and freezing temperatures in the north with high water and flooding in Venice, all of Italy was in the grip of miserable weather Wednesday. Snows clogged the Colle della Maddalena and Colle del Tenda passes in the mountains between Italy and France and, with no openings likely until later this week, truckers and travellers were forced to detour. The bad weather, which comes after a similar wave of storms wreaked havoc earlier this month, also slowed searchers seeking three climbers who disappeared last weekend somewhere on Italy's highest alpines slopes. It is hoped that the trio, all experienced mountain climbers, have found some shelter from the inclement weather. Weather alerts were Wednesday issued for seven Italian regions. Strong winds were also a major problem in Italy's southern province of Campania, where civil defence authorities warned of heavy rains. Authorities in Tuscany were issuing similar heavy rainfall warnings as downpours brought by storm system Medusa raised fears of still more flooding. Rainfall forced a temporary closure Tuesday of the rail line between the cities of Pisa and Genoa, and the Aurelia highway near Carrara. As many as 28 people were forced from their homes by floods in the city of Carrara, reminding people of severe flooding earlier this month in many parts of Tuscany. More should be done to protect the region, Carrara Mayor Angelo Zubbani told Mediaset television. "Fifteen days after the previous flood we have this storm hit us, we're a fragile area with open wounds," he said. In Venice authorities were cautiously hopeful that the high water, which had reached 103 centimetres, will be lower than earlier forecast. Waters were flooding about 10% of the historic city's centre, lifted higher still by the force of sirocco winds.

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