Why are storm warnings and weather alerts so frequent in the Cinque Terre?

If you follow the blog or my social media accounts, you’re probably wondering why we have so many storm warnings and weather alerts here in the Cinque Terre.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these videos are probably worth a million.

The date was October 25, 2011. In just six hours a storm dumped 54.2cm (that’s over 21 inches) of torrential rain onto our already fragile territory causing streams to overflow and (mostly abandoned) drystone terraces to collapse.

The villages of Vernazza and Monterosso were devastated by flooding and mudslides. Four locals lost their lives: three in Vernazza and one in Monterosso. The outcome could have been much, much worse.

The same storm rocked the Val di Vara (located on the opposite side of ridge from the Cinque Terre) and left seven victims in its wake. Just two weeks later, another storm with copious amounts of rain flooded Genoa, killing six people.

To put it simply, we have much at stake and much to fear when it comes to storms here. In the event of a natural disaster, city halls—and ultimately their mayors—can be held responsible in both civil and penal courts if adequate security measures were not taken in advance. For this reason, most city halls err on the side of caution and automatically enact storm warning action plans as soon as the alert is issued. Can it be annoying that schools are cancelled or businesses are forced to close? Absolutely. But I’d much rather be inconvenienced than repeat the tragedy we experienced in 2011.

Perspective changes everything.

Another weather alert for Liguria and the Cinque Terre: October 20 & 21

From 5pm today until 6pm tomorrow, October 21, a level orange weather alert has been issued for the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas. Other areas of Liguria (the region in which we are located) are on either an orange or red alert.

The Cinque Terre villages are located where you see the letter C

Meteorologists have forecasted heavy rains, gusty winds, thunderstorms and rough seas. In many areas of Liguria the ground has already reached the saturation point due to significant amounts of rain so experts are concerned about potential flooding.

Are you wondering why weather alerts and storm warnings are seemingly so frequent in our area? Check out this post.

Alerts are classified as either yellow, orange or red depending on the level of risk associated (yellow being the lowest on the scale and red the highest). As this is an orange alert, extra safety precautions within the Cinque Terre automatically go into effect. In the Comune di Riomaggiore (which encompasses the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Volastra and Groppo) businesses located within potential flood zones are required to close, vehicles must be moved to areas not prone to flooding and organized tour groups are not permitted to visit the villages (amongst a plethora of other ordinances, but these are the main ones that affect those visiting our area). During the weather alert all hiking trails in the Cinque Terre National Park are officially closed.

If you are staying in the Cinque Terre we recommend buying food and snacks to tide you over as many businesses (bars, restaurants, shops, offices, etc.) are required to close. Only a select few businesses (with secondary emergency exits or outside of the flood zones) are allowed to remain open.

Here are the businesses that are permitted to stay open during a level orange weather alert for the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola (but keep in mind that just because they can open doesn’t mean that they will open). Also, chances are that the few places open will be very busy and with potentially long lines.

Riomaggiore:

Fuori Rotta (bar/café)

Farmacia (pharmacy)

Coop 5Terre (grocery market, the one located higher up on via Colombo)

La Zorza (bar/café)

Dau Cila (restaurant)

A Pié de Mà (wine bar)*

Focacceria da Paolino (snack bar in the marina)

Manarola:

Aristide (bar/café/restaurant)

Trattoria dal Billy (restaurant)

La Scogliera (restaurant)

Nessun Dorma (bar/café)*

*I think it’s extremely unlikely these businesses will be open during a weather alert as their seating is outdoors

If you are staying in Corniglia, Vernazza or Monterosso speak with your host to see how you will be potentially affected by the weather alert.

At 6pm the weather alert is expected to downgrade to yellow, meaning that businesses are able to reopen.

What do I recommend? Use this time to catch up on sleep or some much-needed R&R. Delve into a new book or catch up on emails. If you decide to venture out, be prudent and prepared for heavy rains (and be ready to turn back should conditions worsen). Steer clear of low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. Don’t be alarmed, just be cautious.