The highest tide in 50 years is causing extreme flooding in Venice

Nov 15, 2019

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Venice has declared a state of emergency due to near record-breaking floodwaters following a powerful storm.

By Tuesday, 12 November, the tide in the Italian city reached its highest level in 50 years, rising over 6 feet. According to the BBC, the only time the tide has been higher since the monitoring center began keeping records was in 1966, when the waters reached nearly 6.5 feet high.

A number of the city’s architectural landmarks are at risk, and many worry historical structures won’t be able to withstand the repetitive flooding. This is the fourth time, for example, that Saint Mark’s Basilica has flooded in just the last two decades. CBS News said damage has been reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery and La Fenice theater. Two fatalities have also been reported, with one elderly man being electrocuted while trying to start a water pump inside his house.

Venice’s Mayor tweeted: “Now the government must listen … the costs will be high. These are the effects of climate change”.

Climate change is undoubtedly playing a large part in the more extreme weather conditions we’re seeing in Venice and around the world. Experts warn that, as sea levels rise due to increasing temperatures, we’ll likely see more frequent flooding affecting low-lying cities such as Venice.

For travellers wondering if it’s still possible to visit Venice, the answer is yes. But doing so may not be without its difficulty, or even dangers.

Some tourists actually choose to visit Venice this time of year to witness the annual high tides, known as acqua alta, which are not unusual during late fall and winter. And hotels have providing guests with disposable knee-high plastic boots, CBS News reported.  If you do decide to visit Venice during this season, or already have a trip planned, be aware that getting around will not be easy, and it could even be hazardous.

(Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)
(Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)

Because the city is accustomed to severe flooding, you may still be able to find some restaurants, shops and sites open to the public, but don’t count on it. The National Archaeological Museum of Venice, for example, tried keeping its doors open on Tuesday, only to later tweet that it was closing and would remain closed due to the flood waters.

Feature photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images.

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