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acqua alta - high tide in venice italy

acqua alta: the flood of 1966 as perceived forty years later

acqua alta in venice italy 4 november 1966

This is the Doge's Palace in St. Mark's Square on 4 November 1966. It was flooded under 150 cms of sea water (194 cms when measured from the average sea level), and boats can be seen navigating the piazza. Three days of heavy rain brought Venice to its knees (and water up to its residents' shoulders). It was the same along rivers and lagoons in many Italian cities in Northern and Central Italy. Florence, Trento, Siena, and Venice were the most severely affected. Venice remained isolated for 24 hours, and the city was not at all prepared to face such an emergency. The streets in the historical centre of Venice were flooded to average heights of more than 50 cms. On the nearby island of Pellestrina, more than 2000 people had to leave their houses, and more than 1200 residents abandoned Venice entirely. More than 75 percent of businesses, shops, and artisans' studios were seriously damaged, and thousands of goods were ruined or destroyed. The damage to the city's artistic heritage was incalculable.

Forty years later, the Italian National Council for Research says that, with today's weather forecasting methods, the flood could have been predicted six days in advance. As bad as it was, however, the 1966 flood could have been even more frightening and destructive. Had the tide been at its peak -- five hours before the maximum flood -- the water would have reached 230 cms over the average sea level.

Such devastating events can occur every 100-150 years. The huge amount of data collected by weather satellites, weather stations, ships, and airplanes can help forecast and prepare for such exceptional events which, scientists say, are getting more and more predictable.
(RG -

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acqua alta in June? (2002)

Extraordinary high tide and Venice ran the risk of drowning. On June 6th the waters of lagoon, because of a south-east wind, raised to 120 cms (!) and the city life was paralyzed for many hours. The high tide is a typical winter phenomenon but in the summertime nobody is ready for it. So the extraordinary high tide of June 6th 2002 (a record of 20th century!) was kind of a disaster for Venice. The first siren that usually announces the arrival of high tide, started to sound at about 3 pm and many people thought it was a mistake. But during the afternoon the sirens sounded again and then the Venetians understood it was a strange but real danger.  In fact, when winter is over  the gangways are taken away by municipality. Venice was undefended and water was rising. In St Mark Square the special concert for commemorate the Venetian conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli started in advance and all the people tried to return home quickly. Only the soaked tourists with their cameras smiled. Probably thet didn't know that a 120 cms high tide in June for the lovely Venice is a great problem: the stores were flooded by dirty water, the goods were ruined, many houses were damaged. And this record high tide should have cause a meditation on the future: what is happening to our environment and our climate?

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