New Sirens tell the Acqua Alta Story

acqua alta - 2 I had heard the forecast in giro, and the howling scirocco winds as I lay in bed on Sunday night, but the new sirens confirmed it when all four pitches of tones were sounded this morning to indicate that, by 11:00, the water would be up over 140 cm…over 4 1/2 feet higher than normal. The northern bora had turned to southern scirocco, and acqua exceptionally alta was the result. [In fact, the maximum height eventually rose to 156 cm, the fourth highest high-water level in the last 135 years.]

I live one floor up…thank heaven, because when I went down to check, the water was already at the height of the realzata portion of the entrata, about 6 inches. By 9:00, it was four inches above that. At 10:15, there is a boat in the calle and bags of garbage that couldn’t get picked up were bobbing toward the fondamenta.


I am grateful I don’t have to go out this morning, and feel for the folks with two young children on the ground level below who, although they’ve installed the barriera at their door, have been hauling stuff off the floor since the wee hours, just in case.

[The response when I later asked them “how was it?” “A disaster,” he repled, skaking his head. “Disaster.”]

I leaned out the window to get a comprehensive look, and found my neighbors across and to my left doing the same. The couple across set their cocker spaniel (Marilyn, named after Ms. Monroe) on the window sill to consider the water below. “She hasn’t been out since last night, poor thing. I put some newspaper on the floor, but she can’t quite understand why she can’t go out.” The woman doesn’t like the new sirens, they sound to her like something from a science fiction movie. [Many I spoke to later never even heard them.]

There have also been loud-speaker annoucements all morning, most of which bounced off so many walls they were incomprehensible, but the last of which broadcast that the marea peaked at one meter and 56 cm…the higher than I have experienced since I moved here four years ago, and which I have now heard in fact, since over twenty years. “Avete finito coi messaggi?” I hear from somewhere down the calle. “Enough with the messages!”

acqua altra - 1I looked out onto the calle before noon and sure enough, the garbage sacks were bobbing in the other direction. Se ne va.

Acqua alta is so hard on the city. This is definitely one of the times that if we had the Mose in place, it would have been put through its paces. I am not a Mose proponent, but I do hope they finish it at some point, and when it’s in place, that it gives the poor Venetian infrastructure some relief from these high tides.

I have to head out this evening, and know that there will be some recurrence at the next tide, on my return. Boots are in the tote…

6 thoughts on “New Sirens tell the Acqua Alta Story

  1. Pauline Kenny

    I have always wanted to see Venice during an Acqua Alta. In normal conditions Venice seems so much a part of the water that I can’t imagine how it must feel during this flooding. More photos Nan!!

  2. Mary Comber

    Thanks for the report Nan! Part of me wants to be there of course, but it sounds like hip waders would be in order. I wonder if the sirens and messages sound like our earthquake warning system here in San Francisco. Even the weekly test is weird and discomfiting.

  3. JoAnn

    Ciao Nan: Glad you are ok. Several of the staff at Orsoni were stranded on bridges and the foundry workers rowed a boat over to rescue them. How is it today?

  4. Nikki D'Agostino

    it really was an amazing day to see in Venice! I have some more photos and a link to an album in my blog.. just my view, the girl from Australia living in this beautiful city – definitely something new to me! water, snow… what next!?


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