Destinations

St Mark’s Square closed as Venice hit by third record tide

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Venice has been inundated by another exceptionally high acqua alta tide for the third time in a week.

The Italian city was hit by a high tide again on Sunday, with the acqua alta peaking at 150 centimetres (just shy of five feet high), marking for the third time within a week that waters had topped 1.5 metres.

Venice’s Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) was closed on account of the floods, but has since reopened, with emergency services repositioning catwalks for resumed transit across the square, according to an update from the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro.

Venice is periodically hit by exceptionally high acqua alta tides. However, last week’s three tides have been far higher than normal.

Sunday’s flood marks the third time since last week’s 1.87-metre flood that tides have reached more than 1.5 metres high – a level that had never been reached even twice in one year, let alone three times in one week, since records began in 1872, the Associated Press reported.

Stores and museums around St Mark’s Square were closed in the hardest-hit areas at the weekend, with the doors of St Mark’s Basilica securely shut to the public, and  tourists seen in high gum boots and hip waders.

Authorities stacked sandbags in canal-side windows to prevent sea water from entering the crypt of St Mark’s Basilica again, after it was inundated with water last week for only the second time in history, with Tuesday’s flood – the worst in 53 years – entering through windows and bypassing all defences.

The City of Venice said on Sunday the tide was predicted to peak between 1.5 metres to 1.6 metres, but a weather front off the coast reportedly blocked southerly winds from the Adriatic Sea from pushing the tide to the predicted high.

Venice faces the combined threat of its city’s foundations sinking into the mud and higher acqua alta tides attributed to rising sea levels, which Brugnaro consistently maintains are linked to climate change.

According to Brugnaro, flood damage is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros, and Italian officials have declared a state of emergency for the area.

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