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Flood-Battered Italian Region May See More Violent and Frequent Storms

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The floods that submerged the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna this month, killing 15 people, leaving thousands homeless and grinding transportation and businesses to a halt, were not one-off events, warn experts, who predict that there are more similar, frequent and violent storms to come.

“The question to ask,” the country’s civil protection minister, Nello Musumeci, told an Italian newspaper, “is not whether a disastrous event” like the deadly flooding will happen again, “but when and where it will occur.”

The causes of floods are complex, including land development and ground conditions. But many experts in Italy, including Barbara Lastoria, a hydraulic engineer, have linked the two devastating storms that occurred over two weeks to climate change.

The amount of water that fell — about 19.6 inches of rain in 15 days, more than half the average annual rainfall in the region — was extraordinary, experts say, exacerbated by a monthslong drought that had left the terrain struggling to absorb all of that rain. It swelled nearly two dozen rivers and sent…

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