Venice braces for waist-deep flooding

'High water' relentless, seeps in lagoon for third straight day

Venice braces for waist-deep flooding

Rome, October 29 - Venice waded through its third straight day of 'high water' flooding on Monday as it braced for record tides later in the week. Water levels were 103 centimeters above normal early Monday, and meter-high flooding was also likely Tuesday. Worse still, Venice's tide-warning system predicted flood levels at 140 centimeters on Wednesday. On Saturday runners and spectators at the Venice Marathon had to resort to portable elevated bridges in order to escape rising water amid heavy rain. Italy is currently under a nationwide rainstorm, and autumn marks the beginning of the high-tide season, when water routinely spills over the city's banks, flooding its streets and squares. The causes are both natural and man-made. Decades of pumping groundwater caused significant damage to the delicate foundation before the practice was called off. Weather experts say the high-water threat has been increasing in recent years as heavier rains have hit northern Italy. Other possible explanations for the phenomenon include the sea floor rising as a result of incoming silt and gas extraction in the sea off Venice undermining the islands. According to a recent study, plate tectonics are also to blame as the Adriatic plate is sliding beneath the Apennine Mountains, causing the area to drop in elevation. Scientists have conceived various ways of warding off the waters since a catastrophic flood in 1966 and a system of moveable flood barriers called MOSE is near completion after years of controversy.

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