Italy: Lake Como towns hit by extreme weather

MILAN (AP), On Tuesday, towns around Lake Como in Italy were struck by mudslides or floods. This was another example of extreme weather phenomena that a lobby for agriculture said had increased in recent years.More than 60 rescues were performed by Italian firefighters after storms devastated the beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains in northern Italy. These included the rescue of an elderly woman trapped in her house, and also a disabled person and caregiver who were separated by a landslide. There were no injuries or deaths reported.Brienno is the town on the lake's west shore, and was the most severely affected. 50 residents were trapped in their homes after a landslide resulted in a gas leak. Further south, firefighters evacuated a condo that was at risk of flooding in Cernobbio.Coldiretti stated that we are now facing the effects of climate change in Italy. He cited a trend towards tropicalization and the multiplication extreme events.Coldiretti estimates that 14 billion euros ($16.5 trillion) has been done to infrastructure, agriculture production and buildings by climate-related events such as flooding and landslides over the past decade.Storms that decimate Lake Como came a day after hailstones as large as tennis balls caused damage to nearly 100 cars. Traffic was slowed on a highway in northern Italy near Bologna. As stunned motorists and passengers looked on, video showed windshields that had been smashed by hailstones being pulled over to the side of the highway.Although hailstorms are a regular feature of Italy's Po River Valley summer, meteorologist Luca Lombroso explained to the Bologna daily il Resto di Carlino that this year's hailstorms were unusually strong and frequent.Coldiretti stated that hailstorms occur at a rate of 11 per day this summer. 386 have been recorded this year. This compares to just a handful of hailstorms per year six years ago. The rate grew to 92 and 198 respectively in 2018 and 2019.Coldiretti stated that the hailstones' dimensions have changed significantly over the years, with hailstones falling from the sky larger than tennis balls.Hailstorms can decimate entire orchards or fields of fruit and vegetable. This crazy climate is responsible for a 40% decrease in peach and Aprico harvests, and a 50% drop of nectarines.