Relentless 'high water' floods Venice

Lagoon city hammered over past week

Relentless 'high water' floods Venice

Venice, November 5 - Venice was once again underwater Monday in some of the most persistent flooding in recent memory. Flood levels reached 110 centimeters before sunrise and rose again to 105 centimeters in early afternoon local time, forcing pedestrians to resort to temporary elevated bridges as water covered St Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge area and other crowded walkways. Venice had recently been subject to one week straight of unforgiving floods that reached chest-high levels several times, flooding stores and ground-floor apartments. Italy has been 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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