Venice choking on chest-high floods

'High water' inundates lagoon city for sixth straight day

Venice choking on chest-high floods

Venice, November 1 - Venice was under water for the sixth straight day Thursday after floods reached chest-high levels of 143 centimeters (four feet, eight inches) in early hours. The phenomenon, known as 'high water', had receded to 128 centimeters by midday, while ground-floor homes and shops were still bogged down in salty lagoon water that overflowed canals and breached removable dikes laid in front of building entrances. Italy is currently under a nationwide rainstorm, and autumn marks the beginning of the high-water season, which has been particularly severe this year. 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. Weather forecasts predict mild weather until Sunday, when storms are predicted to pound the country again, and high water is expected to return to Venice.

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