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Extreme rain rips apart historic Cinque Terre: "Monterosso no longer exists"

Vancouverites have a lot of experience with rain. Too much, many of us might say.

The most miserable of all are those days when the sky just opens and water dumps down faster than street drains can keep up. Just last week I was wading across Cambie “Stream” with my umbrella guttering water. Nearly 11 mm of rain fell in that day, the most so far this month.

Environment Canada says our greatest single day rainfall in the last eighty years was Christmas Day 1972 when 89 mm (3.5 inches) dumped on Vancouver. That is a lot of rain.

In comparison, the monster downpour that slammed into Italy’s picturesque and internationally famous Cinque Terra region last week was so extreme it’s as if it happened on a different planet. In a way it did. Author and climate activist Bill McKibben calls our altered planet we are cooking up with our fossil fuel pollution, “Eaarth”.

This Italian freak storm last week, a dark postcard from our increasingly flooded future, dumped as much as 500 mm (20 inches) in only six hours.  Some areas recorded twelve inches of rain in only three hours.

The Telegraph reported on the aftermath:

The mayor of Monterosso said the fishing village had all but been wiped out.

"Monterosso no longer exists," Angelo Betta told an Italian news agency.

Huge amounts of mud had swept through the tiny settlement, causing an "unimaginable disaster"…

Alberto Monaci, the president of the region, said Tuscany and Liguria had been hit by a "meteorological explosion".

Here is what Cinque Terra usually looks like:

Here is a video of what it looks like after 20 inches of rain in six hours:

To try to get a grasp on how much rain that is, consider that the 3.5 inches of water that fell on Vancouver’s rainiest day in history would come up to your ankle. Twenty inches of water comes up to your knees, well over the top of gumboots. Let’s call this “Raain”.

Or compare it to some of the other recent freak deluges I covered in “NASA: It rained so hard the oceans fell.” Six inches in half an hour did this in Australia:

Twelve inches in a few hours created Brazil’s worst single-day natural disaster in its history:

Fifteen inches over two days created a 1,000 year flood in Nashville:

All of those were epic. Yet all suffered much less rain that the twenty inches that slammed into Italy in six hours.

All this brings up the increasingly interesting questions of just what the hell is going on?

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