Unseasonal flooding hits Italy’s Venice

Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, was submerged in up to a meter of water overnight as the city was hit by rare summer flooding.

The lagoon city is often hit by so-called “acqua alta” (high water) in autumn and winter, and devastating floods in November 2019 caused hundreds of millions of euros of damage.

Sunday night’s event was less damaging, however, and couples in the square danced to piano music almost knee-deep in the water, while children splashed and paddled and tourists waded through, shoes in hand.

Venice’s high water incidents are caused by a combination of factors exacerbated by climate change – from rising sea levels and unusually high tides to land subsidence that has caused the ground level of the city to sink.

A long-delayed flood barrier was deployed for the first time last October, but it is only activated to block the most potentially damaging tides of more than 130 cm (4 ft 3 inches) and so did not enter into operation on Sunday.

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