Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wild Weather


The worst is almost over ... or at least, it should be. July is usually the hottest and stickiest month here in Milan, with combined temperatures and humidity regularly giving a perceived temperature of over 38°C (100°F) - sometimes well over. All day you're clammy and dehydrated, and at night it becomes impossible to sleep. Despite three or four tepid showers a day, you feel devoid of energy and irritable, can't work, can't think and want do do nothing but lie in front of a fan on full blast.

Well, that's me anyway - and most of the plants on the balcony. Some people, like my husband, revel in it. I flake, my plants droop pathetically, and he decides to spring clean the house. No accounting for tastes. Perhaps I should suggest he takes on the dead-heading and the staking and the 101 other jobs that I can't find the energy for.

In comparison with other years though, this July was better than usual. Air temperatures didn't ever go above about 36°(97°F), and the humidity was only a real problem for about ten days. In between hot spells, temperatures dropped to an almost pleasant 30°C (86°C) and the hottest, most humid days usually finished with a storm which brought the nighttime temperatures down.

But what storms. The north of Italy made the national news constantly during July as hailstorms, wind and torrential rain brought down trees and scaffolding, and flooded roads, houses and railway lines. The hail was sometimes as big as small icecubes. It hit the balcony plants hard , particularly those trailing over the balcony rails like the ivy-leaved pelargoniums and surfinia, whose flowers were ripped to pieces. And several times a crash in the night announced that yet another large pot had been blown over by a wind that here is called a tromba d'aria. The literal translation is blast of air, but it's usually translated as a tornado. However, I think a more accurate term is a downburst. It's a wind which arrives suddenly with no warning, and lasts for no more than about ten minutes, but in that time reaches gale-force strengths. We have them regularly and they can do a lot of damage. One arrived last night as we were sitting watching TV (OK, OK I admit it - Brothers and Sisters. In this heat that's about the maximum my intellect can manage) and within thirty seconds half the balcony had blown into the living room through the french doors. Ten minutes later there wasn't a whiff of breeze, but for the next half hour there was a thunderstorm and torrential rain. We found out this morning that the storm had brought down six large trees around the city, injuring two people, and again causing widespread flooding..





In theory, now that we're in August things should gradually change. By the end of the month we should be looking towards autumn, with noticeably cooler temperatures. But the forecasts are for hotter than average temperatures so who knows ...

8 comments:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Why did I think August was the hottest month in Italy? Shouldn't everything close down & everybody take off July instead if it's hotter then? Regardless, it sounds painful even with the cooler than normal temperatures. Makes you long for autumn.

patientgardener said...

My friend lives in your part of italy - she alternates between Milan and Turin. Whenever I am struggling with the heat here I just need to talk to her and I feel much cooler - it is always mucher hotter there!

Leslie said...

We're hoping to be in Italy end of next June...probably not as far north as Milan except on the train on our way to Zurich. In any case now I'm worried! We were there a few years ago and saw one little drizzle. Is this weather mostly around Milan or across Northern Italy?

Rowena said...

I just hope that August brings enough heat and sun so that the tomatoes will ripen! My father-in-law cannot understand why in the world I would want to grow tomatoes in a container, so I really need the weather to cooperate to prove my point. Of course I'm certain that the ones I gave him have been taken out of their pots and put into the ground...sigh.

I eventually navigated my way here through Blotanical. Still remains to be a labyrinth whenever I navigate, given the rate that I get lost in there!

casalba said...

We had a couple of frightening storms here too, but not on that scale! Must have been terrifying.

Sue Swift said...

MMD and Leslie - like everywhere, the weather here has been really aerratic and unpredictable over the last few years. August did used to be the hottest month, but in fact several years ago we stopped going on holiday in the last two weeks as all we got was rain. Last year we were dying of heat and humidity by mid-June, when in the past few years it's been July. This year June was cool and,in comparison with the norm, so has July been. But we've had these incredible storms - one far worse than what I captured on video. Next year could be different again - who knows?

Rowena - apart from the beans I harvested early on, all my container veg have been eaten not by us but by red spider mite. Ah well ... Stick with Blotanical. Finding its hidden features is half the fun!

Rowena said...

Sue - regarding that mole plant, I'll certainly think it over if it should ever be necessary to plant some. F-i-l pretty much said the same thing, but somehow he's been able to keep his plant under control. Too bad...I think moles are rather cute, especially since having been introduced to Enrico La Talpa! This particular strip had me cracking up.

VP said...

Hi Sue - thanks for your level headed and informative comments over at my place re the content theft. I guess it's stuff that goes with the territory of being a blogger. The thing that made me so angry about it is a valued blogging friend got a nasty surprise when checking her web stats. BUT I am glad she told me about it so that I could warn the others before it happened to them.

I've just tried to vote in your poll, but as usual can't as it's a Blogger one. My vote is Usually. I'm interested in the results of this poll as I was about to ask a similar question on my blog! So glad you've done so instead.

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