New tide gives no respite to Venice residents

epa07999377 People wade through high water in Venice, northern Italy, 15 November 2019. Venice closed St Mark's Square due to fresh flooding in the city. The city is currently suffering its second-worst floods on record, with the high-water mark reaching 187cm on Tuesday. The water level had dropped down significantly but it is forecast to go back up to 160cm today. EPA-EFE/ANDREA MEROLA

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Flooded Venice has been hit by a new high tide of 154cm (5ft), giving residents no respite from a crisis costing Italy millions of euros.

World-famous St Mark’s Square, a magnet for tourists, has been closed, and schools are shut for a third day.

The canal city’s famous waterbuses – the vaporetti – are not running.

The 187cm peak on Tuesday was the highest level in more than 50 years, damaging monuments, shops and homes. More than 80% of the city was flooded.

The government declared a state of emergency in the Unesco world heritage site.

Because of rising seas, extreme flooding that used to occur in Venice once every 100 years is expected to recur every six years by 2050, according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Washington Post reports also that the case is worse, in view of the fact that Venice is sinking. That means these flood recurrence periods, calculated for the IPCC report, are on the conservative side.

Friday’s floods are due to another storm in a similar position southwest of Italy, with winds blowing from the southeast to northwest across the Adriatic, piling water toward Venice. Coming atop astronomical high tides and long-term subsidence plus sea-level rise, it’s becoming easier to flood the city to severely damaging levels.

All around the busiest parts of the city, water slicked the floors of cafes and Murano glass shops and seeped into hotel lobbies, leaving a smell of sewage in its wake.

Venice, over the centuries, has diverted rivers to protect the lagoon and extended the barrier islands. But now, the sea level is rising several millimeters a year.

Offshore, at the inlets between those barrier islands, a massive project known as MOSE could potentially boost Venice’s protection — with floodgates that could be raised from the sea during high tide, sealing off the lagoon.

Via BBC / Washington Post / EPA / ANSA /TgCom 

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