Rome

Italy feels fires of hell as weather system lucifer arrives

Temperatures up to 40 degrees expected

Italy feels fires of hell as weather system lucifer arrives

(ANSA) - Rome, August 21 - The fires of hell are scorching saints and sinners alike across much of Italy this week as the latest overheated weather system - dubbed Lucifer - sends temperatures sky high. Code red heat warnings, indicating the highest level of health risk, were issued Tuesday morning by the country's Ministry of Health for eight Italian cities. Those range from Bolzano and Genoa in the north, to Bologna and Florence - which could hit 40 degrees C - in central Italy, all the way down to Viterbo and Rome, as hot air masses over the Mediterranean region. Wednesday, the red warning extends to 11 cities including more northern centres such as Milan and Turin, and 12 cities are expected to be under the extreme alert on Thursday. The Lucifer weather system is the seventh and strongest such force this long, hot summer, says Antonio Sano', director of the Internet site 'ilmeteo.it' throughout the Mediterranean. True to form, Lucifer is damaging crops across Europe to the extent that ministers from the G-20 nations are holding an emergency conference call next week to discuss the problem, says farm organization Coldiretti. Corn crops, needed to feed cattle which produce milk and cheese, have fallen by at least 13% - an estimated 58 million tonnes in Italy, Hungary and Romania, says the organization. That reduction, added to drought losses in parts of the United States, the Balkans, and the Black Sea could drive up food prices and worsen Italy's economic crisis. Besides threatening crops and farmers' livelihoods, the high temperatures have also created increased levels of ozone in the northern Alto Adige region. Authorities say ozone levels have exceeded the warning threshold in two locations. Experts warn heightened ozone levels are a threat to anyone with respiratory problems. But by Sunday, the Beatrice system is expected to push out Lucifer in the age-old battle of good versus evil, and moderate temperatures.

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