Red warnings issued, major snowfall with avalanche threat over northwest Italy

Red warnings issued, major snowfall with avalanche threat over northwest Italy

As intense snowfall is ongoing over the higher mountains across northwest Italy, models indicate over 1 500 mm (59 inches) of snow this weekend, November 23, 2019, into Sunday morning, November 24-- posing risks of avalanches. Heavy rain is also affecting parts of neighboring France, disrupting traffic and causing evacuations. At least two people are missing as of early Sunday morning.

Models hint the extreme amount of snow to fall in just 36 hours. According to Severe Weather Europe, this extreme snow is related to the severe rainfall across southeast France and the western Alps.

"A large cyclone that produced an intense windstorm across the Bay of Biscay today is becoming larger in size while moving into France. Strong southerlies will deliver huge amounts of very moist and unusually warm air mass from the Mediterranean northwards into the threat area," Severe Weather Europe reported.

A deep trough sitting over southwest Europe will support incessant strong southerlies towards the Alps, advecting moisture into the mountains. As cold temperatures will occur around above 2 000 m (6 562 feet) ASL, the heavy snow will take place.

Severe red warnings have been issued not only across Italy, but also France, prior to a destructive storm sweeping through Europe.

"There are severe weather warnings for many central parts of Europe," BBC Meteorologist Helen Willets said. "In fact, the highest weather warning-- a red warning-- is out in Italy already for the day on Saturday and Sunday."

At least 2 people are missing in southern France where heavy rains hit Cote d'Azur on November 23, disrupting air and rail transport. Hundreds of people were evacuated.

According to local media reports, numerous roads were cut off and rail traffic from the Cote d'Azur to the Italian border is halted.

The districts of Alpes-Maritimes and Var were placed on "red alert" -- official warnings were also issued for high waves off the coast.

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