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Venice experiencing worst floods in 50 years

Excerpts from National Graphics

flooding around st marks square in venice
Wearing thigh-high rain boots, pedestrians cross flooded St. Mark’s Square in Venice. An exceptionally high tide, seasonal winds, and storms have driven flood levels to a 50-year high.PHOTO BY MARCO BERTORELLO, AFP/GETTY

Venice experiencing worst floods in 50 years

Exceptional high tides, exacerbated by strong storms and blown by seasonal winds, have combined to drive Venetian floodwaters to their second-highest levels since records began.BYNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STAFFPUBLISHED NOVEMBER 13, 2019• 2 MIN READ

The iconic Italian city of Venice is under siege from floodwaters that have risen to levels not seen in 53 years, driven by a combination of extreme high tides, strong storms, and a city that has been sinking almost since it was built.

Called aqua alta, or high water, Venice’s tides happen annually in November and December, when seasonal winds drive strong high tides up canals, through drains, and into the streets of the city. This week’s flooding was second only to the waters that inundated the city in 1966, when levels passed 6 feet.

People walk on a catwalk in a flooded St. Mark's Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, on October 29, 2018.
A woman walks in a flooded Venetian street. According to city officials, about 75 percent of the lagoon city was inundated in the 2018 floods.
St. Mark's Square under water.
People trudge through the square, trying to keep their belongings dry.
Locals pause for a drink despite the high water.
Venetian schools and hospitals were closed by the authorities, and citizens were advised against leaving their homes.
A restaurant owner surveys the high water.
People carry their luggage over their heads to keep it as dry as possible.
A man brushes away floodwater outside the historic Caffe Florian, in San Marco Square.
Workers prepare a temporary catwalk in a flooded St. Mark's Square.
The city's long-term future remains uncertain in a world with rising seas.

1 / 11People walk on a catwalk in a flooded St. Mark’s Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, on October 29, 2018.People walk on a catwalk in a flooded St. Mark’s Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, on October 29, 2018.PHOTOGRAPH BY MANUEL SILVESTRI, REUTERS

The elevated platforms set up above the regular flooding in St. Mark’s Square to allow for foot traffic were no match for these high tides, according to news reports; authorities removed them so that they wouldn’t float away.

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