Italy wore a white “racing stripe” of snow on February 15, 2021, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of the winter scene.
Temperatures have taken a tumble over the last week as a frigid chill accompanied by snow and wind settled over Italy. Clear skies on February 11 gave way to cloud and a temperature drop of 8-10 degrees as a mass of Arctic air poured into the Mediterranean Basin. When the cloud cover cleared on February 15 a broad band of snow coated the Apennines along the spine of Italy as well as the Alps, in the north.
Snow aficionados know Italians (and tourists) throng to the slopes when the white stuff falls. But that’s not the case this year. Many ski resorts across Italy were eyeing a February 15 opening after a being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But on February 14, thanks once again to COVID-19 health concerns, the health minister signed a measure that closed slopes to recreational skiing until March 5. This time the concerns are due to a rapidly-spreading variant of the virus first found in the United Kingdom. The British variant, as it has been called, now makes up 17.8 percent of the cases in Italy.