Friday 20 October 2017

Floods, hailstones and snow as freak weather causes chaos across Europe

Tom Kington Rome

Italian farmers are facing €1bn in damage to crops after rainfall rose by 24pc in May, prompting Lake Garda to burst its banks.

Fruit and vegetable production across the northern part of the country dropped by one-third, according to the farmers' organisation Coldiretti.

The drop was caused by torrential rain that turned fields into swamps, and by hailstorms that destroyed crops.

Around Verona, production of peaches, nectarines and apricots is down by 50pc, while across the region, tomatoes grown for pasta sauce are down by one-third.

Risottos could also be hard to come by, as Italy's output of rice is expected to drop by up to 40pc.

RISK

"Agriculture is key to Italian culture and exports, but the growth in extreme weather, from droughts to flooding, is putting that at risk," said Pablo Falcioni, a spokesman for Coldiretti.

In central Europe, soldiers in the Czech Republic put up metal barriers and piled up sandbags across Prague yesterday to protect the city's historic 14th-Century churches and monuments from flooding after the Vltava river overflowed.

At least two people have died and seven more are missing in floods in the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland since Thursday.

In Germany, large stretches of the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers have been reportedly closed to ship traffic, while the Danube burst its banks.

Evacuations are also taking place in neighbouring Austria and Switzerland.

Central Europe has been hit by flash flooding.

And the Italians have been forced to abandon their seasonal Mediterranean diet of fresh fruit and vegetables after poor weather brought chaos to the harvests.

A French ski resort is believed to have become the first to open in June after the coldest spring in 25 years left slopes covered in as much snow as in January.

HAVOC

The Pyrenees resort of Porte Puymorens was fully booked at the weekend as falling temperatures and rain played havoc with weather across Europe.

Slopes were originally shut at the end of the official season in April.

But the snow that should have melted weeks ago remains in place. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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