Sunday, July 8, 2012

The third Saharan anticyclone of the summer

We are having the hottest summer of the last fifty years in Italy (rivalled only by the summer of 2003). June brought the first Saharan anticyclone, called Scipione, after the Roman General Scipio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War. That heatwave had barely ended when anticylone Numero 2 - Caronte - came along. Caronte, or Charon in Greek mythology, was the ferryman of Hades who transported souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Acheron and Styx that divide the world of the living from that of the dead. In Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, Charon is the first named mythological character that Dante meets in the Underworld, in the third Canto of Inferno. Now, hot on the heels of Caronte, comes Minosse, the third suptropical Saharan anticyclone of the summer (Minos, son of Zeus and Europa, judge of the dead of the underworld). Temperatures will reach the mid-forties in Sicily. Too hot to be outside. Too hot to stay inside.

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