Venice hit by third exceptional tide in less than a week

Venice hit by third exceptional tide in less than a week

Venetians have endured another exceptional tide in a season that is setting records.

Other parts of Italy wrestled with weather woes on Sunday, from rain-swollen rivers to high winds and an out-of-season avalanche.

Shops and museums in Venice were mostly closed in the hardest-hit area around St Mark’s Square but tourists donning high rubber boots or even hip waders still came to witness and photograph the spectacle.

Tourists and residents resume their normal routine at a bar in Venice (Emiliano Creeps/ANSA/AP)
Tourists and residents resume their normal routine at a bar in Venice (Emiliano Creeps/ANSA/AP)

Most were disappointed when officials closed down the historic square as winds rippled across the rising waters.

The doors of St Mark’s Basilica were securely shut to the public, while officials took precautions such as stacking sandbags in canal-side windows to prevent water from entering the crypt again.

Venice’s Tide Office said the peak tide of 1.5 metres (nearly 5ft) hit just after 1pm as a weather front off the coast blocked southerly winds from the Adriatic Sea from pushing the tide to the predicted level of 1.6 metres.

It marked the third time since Tuesday night’s 1.87-metre flood – the worst in 53 years – that water levels in Venice had topped 1.5 metres.

A couple stands in a golden sunset in Venice just hours after an exceptional 1.5-metre tide receded from nearby St Mark’s Square (Luca Bruno/AP)
A couple stands in a golden sunset in Venice just hours after an exceptional 1.5-metre tide receded from nearby St Mark’s Square (Luca Bruno/AP)

Since records began in 1872, that level had never been reached even twice in one year, let alone three times in one week.

Officials said 280 civil protection volunteers from throughout the region were deployed to assist as needed.

The flooding has raised renewed debates about the city’s Moses flood defence project, an underwater barrier system that is still not operational after more than 16 years of construction and at least 5 billion euros (£4.2 billion) of public funding.

It was supposed to be working by 2011.

The swollen Arno river near Santa Trinita bridge in Florence (Claudio Giovannini/ANSA/AP)
The swollen Arno river near Santa Trinita bridge in Florence (Claudio Giovannini/ANSA/AP)

Floods also hit other parts of Italy on Sunday.

In Pisa, workers sandbagged the road along the rising Arno River, which was also surging through the heart of Florence, reaching a level near the Uffizi Galleries that was described as the highest in some 20 years.

In 24 hours, 2.5 inches of rain had fallen in Florence, which was whipped by winds as high as 42 mph.

A popular Florence tourist attraction, the Boboli Gardens, was closed as a precaution while workers checked to see if the high winds might have weakened trees.

Near another Tuscan town, Cecina, 500 people were evacuated when a local river swelled to the top of its banks.

In Italy’s mountainous Alto Adige, or South Tyrol region, a mid-autumn snowstorm triggered power outages and blocked roads in several Alpine valleys.

The mayor of Val Martello, Georg Altstaetter, told state TV that an avalanche had damaged two houses but caused no injuries.

Other homes were evacuated in the town as a precaution, he said.

A windstorm overnight in the Rome area toppled scores of trees, with two falling on cars, severely injuring a motorist, authorities said.

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