Heavy rain in Sicily closes Sigonella base

A bird's-eye view of NAS I, one of two sites of Naval Air Station Sigonella in eastern Sicily. Heavy rain caused flooding around the base on Nov. 2, 2015, forcing Navy officials to cancel school and close the base to nonessential personnel.


By STEVEN BEARDSLEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 2, 2015

NAPLES, Italy — Flooding near the Sicilian city of Catania forced the nearby U.S. Navy base in Sigonella to close schools and cancel nonessential services Monday.

Heavy rain on Sunday left 6 to 8 inches of standing water near the base’s Marinai housing complex. Italian authorities closed highway SP-105/106 in the direction of NAS 1, one of two sites that make up Naval Air Station Sigonella. The highway remained open in the other direction, toward NAS 2, where the base flight line is located, although standing water made passage difficult in some parts, the base reported.

Nonessential base personnel were told not to report to work early Monday, and the base also closed Sigonella Middle-High School, located on NAS 1. Infant day care and school-age child care were still available at NAS 1.

Shuttle services between the base sites were canceled Monday, and base personnel were encouraged not to drive between Marinai and either site.

“They’re allowing everyone in and out, but the recommendation for people on Marinai is to stay put,” Lt. Paul Newell, a base spokesman, said Monday morning.

Officials in Catania had already closed city schools and prohibited motorcycle riding due to flooding from Sunday downpours. The city also closed its cemeteries on Sunday in an effort to keep people out of the streets. Sunday was All Saints Day, a religious holiday during which it is traditional to visit the graves of loved ones, lighting candles and laying flowers.

Weather warnings were in place in eastern Sicily through Monday evening.

Catania is located on Sicily’s eastern coast near the southern slopes of Mount Etna.

Twitter: @sjbeardsley

NAS I, one of two sites that make up Naval Air Station Sigonella in eastern Sicily, is pictured in this 2014 photo.

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