Water quality alert issued for Aviano area, base schools shut as storm pounds Italy
Stars and Stripes November 2, 2023
A contaminated water alert was issued for 10 municipalities around Aviano Air Base in Italy and schools at the installation were closed until Monday amid thunderstorms, high winds and hail warnings as a storm from the Atlantic swept into the region.
“Due to inclement weather, water may be contaminated and is not safe to drink or use for cooking until further notice,” the 31st Fighter Wing said in an alert sent to Aviano personnel Thursday.
The alert was for the cities of Andreis, Aviano, Barcis, Budio, Caneva, Cimolais, Claut, Erto e Casso, Montereale Valcellina and Polcenigo, wing spokeswoman Stephanie Longoria said Friday.
The base itself is not affected by the alert because it uses a separate water system, Longoria said.
The 21st Operational Weather Squadron in Germany issued a warning of potential severe thunderstorms for much of Italy from Thursday morning through Friday night, according to an alert sent to the Naval Support Activity Naples community Thursday.
Wind gusts greater than 51 mph, hail as big as 0.75 inches in diameter and rainfall of up to 2 inches were predicted, according to the alert.
The forecast prompted Aviano’s command to ask the Department of Defense Education Activity to close base schools Thursday and Friday. Normal operations will resume Monday, according to a post Wednesday on the base’s Facebook page.
The closure also affected the base’s child development center, youth programs and some other community services.
The weather warning also covered U.S. Army Garrison Italy in Vicenza and nearby Camp Darby as well as a Navy installation at Gaeta along the Tyrrhenian Sea. Affected regions include the Balkans and Greece, according to the alert.
Defense Department schools in Vicenza, just south of Aviano, and at NSA Naples in southern Italy remained open Thursday.
DODEA officials were monitoring the weather and will determine, along with base communities, whether delays or additional closures are needed if conditions worsen, DODEA Europe spokeswoman Jessica Tackaberry said Thursday.
Parents and school employees should be careful going to and from schools, she said.
On Wednesday, Italian officials issued a weather alert for the Fruili Venezia Guilia region from noon Thursday through midnight Friday, the Italian news agency Ansa reported the same day. The region is home to Aviano.
Rain was expected to intensify Thursday afternoon and into Friday, when conditions are predicted to worsen as cold air comes into the area. Snowfall was possible in higher elevations, according to the Ansa report.
Earlier this week, towns near Lake Como in northern Italy were struck by mudslides and floods, while near Bologna, hailstones the size of tennis balls damaged nearly 100 cars and stalled traffic on a highway, The Associated Press reported. Heavy rains, flooding and storm winds struck also Milan on Tuesday.
Stars and Stripes reporters Brian Erickson and Jennifer Svan contributed to this report.