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Tidal Surges: The Menace Of Venice

  • December 5th, 2008
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

Torrential rain, high winds and a rising Adriatic Sea left the famous Italian city of Venice under a more than usual amount of water this week.


The floodwaters were reportedly at their highest in over 22 years…


The tidal surge on Monday (1.12.08) pushed sea levels to around 1.6 metres high; enough to give the locals and tourists the opportunity to splash about in the overflow from the surrounding lagoon.

Famous landmarks such as St Marks Square and the Piazzo San Marco were thigh-high in water by mid morning on Monday.

The flooding extended to most parts of the city causing damage to local shops as well as power cuts to certain areas.

Emergency crews were taken by surprise and were unable to erect the walking platforms in time; the normal procedure designed to help pedestrians traverse high waters in times of flooding.

Mayor Massimo Cacciari told the BBC that tourists thinking of coming to Venice should “think again” due to the so called acqua alta (high water).

A hotel receptionist from the Grand Canal obviously disagreed with the Mayor when he told the Associated Press he thought the floods cold be “quite fun for tourists”.


Venice is notorious for its yearly flooding; key parts of the city are covered by water for around 200 days of the year.

The worst ever flood to hit Venice was in 1966 when water levels reached 1.96 metres.

Most of Italy was subject to flooding that year, with in Venice, homes destroyed and lives lost, along with extensive damage to thousands of works of art.

The situation is held to be increasingly worse due to the effects of global warming.


Numerous remedies to combat the flooding have been raised over the years, including the idea of supporting the city’s buildings by using piston-supported-poles to lift the structures by one metre.

The recent floods also reopened a running debate on the Moses project, a system of offshore dams being built to prevent flooding.

The $5.5-billion project is expected to be completed by 2010.


“Venice is hit by serious flooding”, BBC News online, 01.12.2008.

“High tide wallops Venice for 2nd straight day”, The Associated Press, 02.12.2008.

“International Safeguarding Campaign of the City of Venice”,, 15.06.2007.

Picture: St. Marco Cathedral, Venice