Cloudbursts, wind, extreme weather cause massive vineyard damage in Italy.

Above: weather-damaged Pinot Blanc grapes in Franciacorta at the Arcari + Danesi winery. “We’ve lost 30 percent of our harvest due to extreme weather,” said grower Giovanni Arcari in text message this morning.

Cloudbursts, high winds, and other extreme weather events caused widespread vineyard and property damage and even loss of life across Italy over the weekend.

In one tragic case, two children were killed when a tree, toppled by wind gusts, fell on their campsite along the Tuscan coast on Saturday.

Last weekend’s weather events came on the heels of a series of severe storms that have vexed Italian winemakers and farmers throughout the month of August.

According to mainstream media reports, an intense storm that struck Valpolicella (Verona province, Veneto) on Sunday, August 23 caused an estimated €6 million in vineyard damage.

Over the weekend, Verona province experienced more extreme weather. The video below, posted on the Veneto-based journal Il Dolomiti YouTube, is dated Saturday, August 28, 2020:

In a blog post published yesterday on its website, Coldiretti (Italy’s national agricultural confederation) wrote that:

    A crazy August has been marked by nearly 10 storms each day throughout the [Italian] peninsula, including torrential rain, tornados, cloudbursts, and hailstorms of anomalous proportions…
    In just a few seconds, many farms have lost an entire year of production. But there is also structural damage to fields that won’t be able to produce crops for a long time…
    We are faced with the obvious consequences of climate change. In Italy, the exception has become the rule as weather events are undergoing a tropicalization. This can be seen in the high frequency of violent storms, seasonal shifts, brief but intense rainstorms, rapid changes in weather from sunny skies to inclement weather, [and] remarkable temperature shifts that compromise crops in the field.

Over the last decade, extreme weather events have more than €14 billion in agricultural damage in Italy according to authors of the post.

Hunkering down for Hurricane Laura. Parzen family update.

Above: the view from our front yard facing south toward the Gulf of Mexico where Hurricane Laura is currently a category 3 storm. The coast lies about 50 miles due south from where we live in southwest Houston.

At one point, it looked like Hurricane Laura (currently a category 3 event in the Gulf of Mexico) might make landfall in Galveston just south of Houston where we live. But over the last day or so the projections have moved it to the east.

That’s good news for our city. We’re expecting to have high winds and heavy rainfall typical of a tropical storm. Flash flooding is expected. But we’ll be outside the storm’s cone.

But it’s terrible news for my in-laws who live in Orange, Texas, right on the Louisiana border. At one point last night, landfall was projected to happen in Orange. The cone has moved slightly east but Orange is still in the storm’s cross hairs.

As of 8:50 a.m., Laura is expected to be a category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border around midnight tonight.

Traice’s parents, Jane and Randy, will be sheltering in place this evening at Tracie’s grandmother’s house. Tracie’s “memaw” is 99 years old and suffered a stroke earlier this year. She’s at home with 24-hour care but can’t travel.

We’ll be following the storm’s progress carefully and checking in regularly with family in Orange.

In the meantime, we’ve been hunkering down and securing everything in our yard (so that the wind doesn’t turn patio furniture and our daughter’s playscape etc. into “missiles”). We have plenty of water, food, and batteries. We even have a transistor radio and my truck and Tra’s minivan are all gassed up.

We’ll be praying for our family in Orange and all of our friends across southeast Texas. We’re expecting Houston to be hard hit as well but we’re particularly concerned about Orange.

Thanks to everyone who’s written and called to check in. The thoughts and wishes mean the world to us. We need them right now.

For updates on the storm, see the excellent Space City Weather blog.

Parzen family safe after heavy rains and severe flooding in Houston

Just a quick post this morning to let everyone know that the Parzen family is safe and dry after heavy rains and severe flooding here in Houston.

Thunderstorms are predicted for today and possibly tomorrow. The ground is saturated, including rainfall from earlier this week. And the bayous are teeming.

But so far, we are still high and dry in our corner of the city. I wish I could say the same for all our neighbors.

The girls and I checked up on our flooding/hurricane preparedness supplies yesterday afternoon. We have plenty of water, food, batteries, and a full tank of gas in the truck (I’m so glad that I got my F150!).

The power went out very briefly, a few times last night, when the lightening struck close to our house. But thankfully we have power.

Rusty, whom we believe was abandoned or separated from his family during Hurricane Harvey, is completely freaked out. He clearly feels the safest place in the house is the girls’ room. He slept with Lila Jane all night (she was so happy about that!). Poor little Rusty! We can only wonder how he made it through Harvey.

School is cancelled today and we’ll be staying in and off the roads.

Stay safe, everyone! G-d bless…

Fragor coeli: prayers for the Carolinas and for everyone in the storm’s path #hurricane #Florence

Memories of Hurricane Harvey are still raw here in Houston. Watching the images of Florence as it approaches the Carolina coast, we can’t help but be reminded of what happened here just over a year ago.

Today, our hearts and prayers are going out to the Carolinas and everyone in the storm’s path.

May G-d bless them and keep them safe.

There was no word in Latin for cyclone or hurricane when the Italian humanist Petrarch was alive in the 14th century. In his Latin writings, he describes a storm that accompanied the 1343 tsunami in Naples as fragor coeli, a shattering of the heavens.

Watching those images, the expression came to mind. Hurricane Florence looks just awful.

We are praying for all our sisters and brothers in the southeast.

Image via the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Flickr (Creative Commons).