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Killer winter storms heading for Italy on Christmas Eve

Strong winds, heavy snow or rain expected up and down peninsula

24 December, 12:08
Killer winter storms heading for Italy on Christmas Eve (ANSA) - Rome, December 24 - As families across Italy finalized travel plans Tuesday to spend Christmas with loved ones, a fierce winter storm system blamed for several deaths in northern Europe was bearing down on the peninsula. A very white and wet Christmas was in store in Italy's northern regions including the Trentino area, where more than a meter of snow was expected at high altitudes of the Alps while forecasters said rain in lower areas could total as much as 120 millimeters.

Civil defense agencies issued a weather warning for the region, with heavy rain and snow expected to fall - along with temperatures - until at least Friday because of an Atlantic storm cycle.

A "violent" storm burst was likely on Christmas Day and December 26 across most of Italy, with the north and Sardinia likely to be hit hardest, forecasters said.

Tuscany, the region of Lazio - including the Italian capital of Rome - and further south in Campania with the city of Naples, were likely to be hit with wind and rain both days.

The same weather system earlier struck parts of northern Europe, paralyzing transportation systems and stranding thousands as people struggled to finish their holiday preparations.

In Britain, three deaths were blamed on weather - one woman in a car crash and two because of flooding - and railways suspended service Tuesday morning as workers worked to remove debris from railways including trees brought down by strong winds.

Environment officials issued more than 300 flood warnings across England and Wales, with some deemed to be life-threatening, while strong winds and snow were forecast in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Electricity was cut off to tens of thousands of people in Britain and in France, where winds in northern regions reached up to 130 km per hour on Monday.