“Unprecedented” flooding in northern Italy leaves 9 dead and thousands without power.

Catastrophic, “unprecedented” rains and flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna have forced tens of thousands to abandon their homes. Major roadways and train lines have been closed and, as of this posting, nine have been killed.

Click here for the Times coverage (last updated yesterday).

Click here for a Wikipedia entry on catastrophic torrential rain and flooding in Italy from 2000 to 2023, including recent events.

A translation of the headline, above, from today’s online edition of La Repubblica, one of Italy’s major national dailies: “Flooding and evacuations, 27, 000 without power. Traffic jams stretching miles on the A1,” Italy’s main freeway, which serves travelers between Rome and Milan, including Bologna, Emilia-Romagna’s capital.

Flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain are not uncommon in Italy. But the events of this week are being called “unprecedented” by meteorologists and commentators. It’s rare that extreme weather events like this affect major urban areas.

“The bill for climate change,” wrote the author of one headline this morning, “has come due.”

Grape growers in Italy have been deeply concerned over the lack of rainfall in this year’s vegetative cycle. Last year’s harvest was nearly decimated by drought and there has been scarce precipitation in 2023 — until now. As many winemakers will point out, the increasing number of extreme weather events like this can damage the vines, whether through their often violent impact or by virtue of the fact that the rainfall is concentrated in a brief period of time. Ideally, there is a balance of precipitation throughout the winter, spring, and summer. The winter and spring have been relatively dry and many are expecting another summer drought.

As residents of southeast Texas, our family has experienced catastrophic flooding a number of times over the years. But we’ve never seen anything like this in Emilia-Romagna. We know exactly what it feels like to be cut off from the world because of extreme weather. Our hearts and prayers go out to our Italian sisters and brothers.

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