VENICE, Italy (AP) – Venice was hit on Sunday by a record third exceptional tide in the same week while other parts of Italy struggled with a series of weather woes, from rain-swollen rivers to high winds to an out-of-season avalanche.
Stores and museums in Venice were mostly closed in the hardest-hit area around St Mark’s Square, but tourists donned high rubber boots or even hip waders to witness and photograph the spectacle.
Most were disappointed when officials closed the historic square as winds rippled across the rising waters.
The doors of the famed St Mark’s Basilica were securely shut to the public, and authorities took precautions – stacking sandbags in canal-side windows – to prevent salt-laden water from entering the crypt again.
Venice’s Tide Office said the peak tide of 1.5 metres hit just after 1pm but a weather front off the coast blocked southerly winds from the Adriatic Sea from pushing the tide to the predicted level of 1.6 metres. By early evening, the level was less than a metre.
Still it marked the third time since Tuesday night’s 1.87-metre flood – the worst in 53 years – that water levels in Venice had topped 1.5 metres.
Since records began in 1872, that level had never been reached even twice in one year, let alone three times in one week.