Third record tide hits Venice as Italy faces heavy rain, snow and strong winds

Third record tide hits Venice as Italy faces heavy rain, snow and strong winds

A third exceptional tide hit Venice, Italy on Sunday, November 17, 2019, during the same week wherein other parts of the country suffered from a series of extreme weather events -- from heavy rain and snow, strong winds, and swollen rivers to out-of-season avalanches.

Most stores, museums, and establishments were closed in the worst-affected areas in Venice, around St. Mark's Square. Still, tourists found ways to visit the sites by donning high rubber boots or even hip waders.

Officials have closed the historic square as winds sweep across the rising waters. The doors of the basilica were securely shut to the public as well. Authorities stacked sandbags in canal-side windows to prevent salt-laden water from getting in the crypt.

According to Venice's Tide Office, the peak was nearly 1.5 m (5 feet). On the other hand, a weather front off the coast blocked southerly winds from the Adriatic Sea from triggering the tide to rise to 1.6 m (5.2 feet). By the evening, the water level was around 0.9 m (3 feet).

It still marked the third time since the worst flood in 53 years hit Venice on Tuesday night, November 12. The water levels during that period hit around 1.9 m (6.2 feet). Since records began in 1872, that level had never been topped nor reached even twice in a year, let alone three times in a week.

As Venetians felt relieved of the gradually falling water levels, heavy rainfall and snowfall elsewhere in Italy triggered rivers to burst its banks to alarming levels. Avalanches also occurred in the Alps, leaving residents asking to be rescued.

The flooding has raised debates about the city's Project Moses, a corruption-tainted flood defense project that is still not operational after over 16 years of construction. It received at least 5 billion euros of public funding, and it was supposed to be fully functional by 2011.

In Alto Adige or South Tyrol region, a mid-autumn snowstorm caused power interruptions and road blockages in several valleys. Mayor Georg Altstaetter of Val Martello told local media that an avalanched affected two residential areas, but no injuries were reported. People have been evacuated as a precaution.

Moreover, the region's governor said crews would be clearing snow-blocked roads.

A windstorm in the Rome area knocked down trees, with two hitting cars and severely injuring a motorist. In Matera, a once-impoverished town that was improved by tourism, torrents of mud swept through the streets due to heavy rain, damaging shops and lodging.

Officials lamented that the devastating situation in Venice was 'eclipsing' the needs of other areas affected by severe weather.

Featured image credit: @d_menduni/Twitter

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