Heavy rain over northern Italy since Sunday has caused widespread flooding, forcing thousands from their homes and closing much of the U.S. Army base in Vicenza for the second-straight day on Tuesday.

Military authorities in Vicenza sent all non-essential personnel home at noon Monday and those orders continued Tuesday. Most facilities at Caserma Ederle and Villagio – including schools, the commissary and exchange – were closed Tuesday.

Officials decided to keep the schools closed on Wednesday due to flooded roads, but other services would reopen as usual on Wednesday.

The low-pressure system over the Western Mediterranean Sea has dumped almost 10 inches of rain on the region since Sunday. Three people were killed Sunday by mudslides in the region of Tuscany, according to ANSA, an Italian wire service.

Flooding also forced the closure of many roads in the region, U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza spokesman Grant Sattler said.

The river Bacchiglione overflowed its banks, flooding almost a third of the city, ANSA reported. Flooding to the west of Vicenza in Verona closed the A4 autostrada – one of the country’s main highways.

Thousands of residents were evacuated in cities throughout the north, including some in Pordenone, the nearest large city to Aviano Air Base.

Valerie Smith, a forecaster for southern Europe at the 21st Operational Weather Squadron in Sembach, Germany, said various measuring stations in the north had picked up between 6 and 81/2 inches of rain.

Mid-November through March traditionally sees the most rain in northern Italy, Smith said.

“This was unusually strong,” she said. Such weather patterns have “a tendency to bring strong winds and, fortunately, that didn’t happen.”

Smith said much of the storm had moved south by noon Tuesday.She said skies should gradually lighten by the weekend.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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