Rising sea waters flood 70% of Venice

Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 00:00

Tourists attached plastic bags to their feet and legs or stripped off to take a dip in St Mark’s Square in Venice yesterday as rising sea waters surged through the lagoon city.

High water measuring 1.49m (5ft) above the normal level of the Adriatic sea came with bad weather that swept Italy at the weekend, causing floods in historic cities including Vicenza 400km (250 miles) further south.

Venice’s high water, or acqua alta, said to be the sixth highest since 1872, flooded 70 per cent of the city. The record high water in Venice – 1.94m (6.4ft) in 1966 – prompted many residents to abandon the city for new lives on the mainland.

Venetians bombarded social media sites with complaints about the city’s weather forecasters, who had predicted just 1.2m (3.9ft) of water on Saturday, before correcting their forecast at dawn yesterday.

“How come the people from the council were predicting 150cm?” asked Matelda Bottoni, who manages a jewellery design shop off St Mark’s Square, which floods when water reaches 105cm (3.4ft).

“Many residents and shopkeepers had gone to the mountains for the day and did not have time to rush back.”

Matteo Secchi, a hotelier and head of a protest group, said his hotel was only safe up to 1.4m (4.6ft). “The British tourists don’t complain,” he said, “ but the Americans can’t understand how it’s possible.” – (Guardian service)