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Acqua alta

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Venice has kicked off Carnival season with more flooding than usual.

High tides have flooded Venice, leading Venetians and tourists to don waterproofs and wellies and use wooden walkways to cross St Mark’s Square and other areas under water.

In other parts of the city, knee-high water forced visitors to wade carefully through the streets.

Despite the high water, thousands of tourists are expected to visit the city during this festive season. This year, there will reportedly be more security throughout the city.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The Italian city, which sits on a cluster of small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges, is experiencing higher than average water levels.

Flooding is common at this time of year and today’s peak of 55 inches (140 cm) is below the record of 63 inches.

Venice suffered its worst “acqua alta” on November 4, 1966, when it was submerged by 160 cm (63 in) of water amid catastrophic flooding throughout Italy.

Carnival of Venice ends with the beginning of Lent on Shrove Tuesday, February 17. The pre-Lent party that traces its roots back to 1162 and attracts tourists from around the world.

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Venice flood barriers – designed to protect the Italian city from flooding during high tides – have been successfully tested for the first time.

Four large floodgates rose out of the water creating a temporary sea barrier.

Once completed, 78 mobile flood barriers will be raised from the seabed to shut off the lagoon in the event of rising sea levels and winter storms.

Venice suffers flooding on a yearly basis. In 1966, 80% of the city was flooded by high tides.

Construction on the barriers began 10 years ago but has been hampered by delays in funding due to Italy’s economic crisis.

Four large floodgates rose out of the water creating a temporary sea barrier

Four large floodgates rose out of the water creating a temporary sea barrier

The Moses project has already cost more than $7 billion and is not expected to be completed for another two years.

Once finished, the floodgates will extend more than a mile, blocking the three inlets to the lagoon.


A government minister has promised funds to complete the scheme on time in 2016.

But the head of the construction consortium said they would need $800 million immediately, otherwise the jobs of some 4,000 construction workers would be at risk.

In 1966, some 5,000 people were left homeless when flood levels in the city reached 6ft causing immense damage.

Earlier this week, Venice saw its first high tide of the season, known as “acqua alta”.

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