Etna: The Climate
The mount Etna is the highest peak in Sicily and currently reaches the altitude of 3330 metres above the sea level.
The biggest volcano in Europe is located in Oriental Sicily, and it is bordered to the East by the Ionian Sea, to the North by the Mounts Peloritani and the Nebrodi, to the West by the Mounts Erei and to the South by the Piana di Catania.
The volcanic massif is characterised by snowfall in winter. Already in October and November the summit area is covered by the snow.
In January and February snowfall is not rare and affects the peaks of lower altitude at 1000m.
The lowest average temperature on the whole island has been registered on the volcano, at Casa Cantoniera (1900 m) in the period 1925-1955, the absolute minimum temperature was -14,6°C, with a minimum average of -4° C; whilst the absolute maximum was 29,2°C, with averages of 20,9° C.
The rainfall and snowfall are particularly intense, as much as rendering the Etna area, base on the data registered by the pluviometer, the rainiest area of the island with more than 1200 mm of rain per year (Casa Cantoniera 1900 m., 1250 mm; Nicolosi 1109 mm; Linguaglossa 1148 mm).
According to the classifications of the climatologists, the Etna area with more than 1000mm of rain per year falls within the wet band, with a wet mesomediterranean climate or subhumid, wet supramediterranean.
We need to consider an important particularity of the Etna area, tightly linked to the high permeation of the lava layers, formed by fractured lava and pyroclastic deposits that do not know the formation of a hydrographic network at the surface, with streams, creeks and water streams.
Only in the most rainy areas that are in the East slope, it is possible to find channel flow of meteoric waters, which remain dry for much of the year, and are affected by torrential flows only during major rainfall events (water stream Macchia, in the area of Giarre) or during the snow melting time in the area of the Pizzi de Neri with the Walloon Quarantore and other adjacent area, where the water flows for a few days and for a few hours per year, just to confirm the toponym.
But just due to the high permeability of the rocks that form it, the volcano area is rich of subterranean waters (thanks to the high rate of rainfall that affects all its slopes) with an abundant formation of sources, especially along the Ionic Coast between the City of Catania, where the river Amenano ends, and the territory of Fiumefreddo where it originates with a brief flow the river Fiumefreddo. Furthermore, it is important to remember that, the northern slope of the Mount Etna is an integral part of the hydrographic basin of the river Alcantara, whilst the occidental and South-oriental one feed the hydrographic basin of the Simeto.
Naturally the climate on the volcano varies at the different altitudes; the areas at an altitude (high) superior to 2000 m, are particularly at risk of cold winds (strong) of a noticeable intensity.