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The drought has significantly affected Italy’s largest lake.



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Tourists who flocked to Italy’s largest lake this weekend found a completely different landscape than in years past. Lake Garda in northern Italy has reached its lowest level ever, revealing areas of underwater rock and warming the water to temperatures seen in the Caribbean, according to Euronews.

“We came last year, we loved it, and we’re back this year,” said Beatrice Masi, as she stood on the sun-bleached rock that now extends far beyond the usual shoreline. “I found that the landscape has changed a lot,” she continued. “We were a bit shocked when we arrived because we walked around the usual places and the water wasn’t there.”

Northern Italy is currently experiencing a historic drought linked to climate change, with an absence of precipitation and melting snow in addition to rising temperatures.

Vital rivers such as the Po, which run through Italy’s agricultural and industrial heartland, have dried up under extreme conditions, significantly reducing food production.

Italy is not alone in Europe, which experts warn is suffering the worst drought in 500 years.

Many European countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands and the UK, are facing unprecedented droughts this summer, affecting farmers and prompting authorities to take emergency measures.

Drought is expected to worsen in Europe, potentially reaching 47% of the continent.

The drought on the Po River, Italy’s longest river, has already caused billions of euros in losses to farmers in the region, which produces 40 percent of Italy’s food.

Authorities tried to compensate for the lack of rain by allowing more water from Lake Garda to flow into local rivers. However, last month they reduced the amount to protect the lake and the financially important tourism linked to it.

With 45 cubic meters of water per second diverted to rivers, the lake was 32 centimeters above the water table on Friday, close to the record lows of 2003 and 2007.

Garda Mayor Davide Bedinelli said he needed to protect both farmers and the tourist industry, insisting the summer tourist season was going better than expected.

Tourists, especially those from Germany, canceled trips to Italy in late July during the country’s latest heat wave.

“Drought is a fact we have to deal with this year, but the tourist season is not in jeopardy,” Bendinelli wrote in a July 20 Facebook post.

The lake was losing two inches of water a day, he confirmed.

Temperatures in Lake Garda are above average for August, according to seatemperature.org.

On Friday, lake waters were around 26°C, around the same temperature as the Caribbean Sea average of 27°C.

This is several degrees above average.

For Mario Treccani, who rents beach chairs and umbrellas by the lake, the historically low water levels are hurting his business because fewer people need his chairs because there are now plenty of rocks to sunbathe on.

“The lake is usually a meter or more than a meter higher,” he said, pointing to a small wall that usually blocks the water from the deck chairs. “It’s a little sad,” he said. “Before, you could hear the sound of the waves breaking here. Now, you don’t hear anything.”