Tag Archives: acqua alta

Venice temps rising, as is the sea level

Predicted tide levels mean residents and visitors can expect acqua alta while preparing for Christmas in Venice.

A text message from Centro Marea this morning announced the predicted tide levels for the next several days. Though the worst will arrive, like Santa, in the wee hours of the night, it’s still something to be aware of as you wend your way through the city enjoying holiday cheer. Just don your Christmas boots and you should be fine:

  • Thu, Dec 23, 115 cm at 11:10 a.m.
  • Fri, Christmas Eve, 130 cm at 1 a.m.
  • Fri, Christmas Eve day, 110 cm at noon

…all to be accompanied by cloudy skies and steady rains. It seems the snowfall that the rest of Europe and Italy has been experiencing will be coming our way in liquid form, from above and below.

To get an idea of the effect high tides have on the city:

  • Normal tide is under 80 cm.
  • At 100 cm., 5% of the surface in the historic center is covered: minor interruption of normal activity
  • At 110 cm., marea sostenuta covering 14%: medium interruption.
  • At 120 cm., marea molto sostenuta covering 30% of the city’s surface: high level of interruption, code yellow
  • At 130 cm., marea molto sostenuta covering 45%: significant interruption, code orange
  • At 140 cm., marea eccezionale covering 55%: exceptional interruption, code red
  • At 150 cm., marea eccezionale covering 65% of the city surface
  • At 160 cm., marea eccezionale: over 70% of the city’s surface is covered — we are effectively at sea.

For tides of 110 cm or higher, sirens will sound 3-4 hours in advance. Anything over 140 cm is world news and people start showing up in costumes and body paint with motorized surfboards and the like trying to get their picture in somebody’s Daily News or as part of a viral Youtube video.

Should you bring boots? Nah. Just make sure your lodging has them ready for you. Worse case, you can pick up a pair here for about €15 and save yourself lots of luggage space.

Remember too, that it’s a tide, and the most significant interruptions will be for about four hours as it approaches is peak and then recedes once again.

For more info, see the English version of the Comune’s Instituzione Centro Provisioni e Segnalazioni Marea.

Late-night Acqua Alta

Just got an SMS predicting acqua alta of between 105 – 110 cm (due to a disturbance in the Atlantic, of all things) for late this evening, cresting at 11:40 pm. If you were here, and planning to go out for dinner, it would be advisable to take your boots for the walk home.

This video was shot in Cannaregio during the historic acqua alta of Dec 1, 2008 (156 cm, compared tonight’s predicted max of 110), and I think it tells the story pretty well. As extreme as it was, within about three hours after the video was shot, the tide had receded — leaving a big, big mess.


p.s. There’s even a bookstore named Libreria Acqua Alta, just off Campo S.M. Formosa down Calle Larga S.M. Formosa. This eccentric store has a gondola as its centerpiece that perhaps could come in handy in the event of another historic tide…but that meanwhile is used for book display.

The sound of sirens: warning tones of rising tides in Venice.

This is such a forlorn sound, especially recorded in my quiet calle, and hearing it echo beyond. I didn’t make it to the window in time to record the one air-raid siren preceded these, but the tones here indicate how high a water level you can anticipate, and are erie enough to give you pause. There is a sensation of being under seige…

The pops you hear throughout the short recording are raindrops spitting on the microphone. I’ll use a windscreen next time.

You hear only two of the four tones, any more mean higher water. I expect to hear all four of them later tonight, as the SMS notification I just received predicts 140 cm by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. The water didn’t completely subside from the earlier tide, you see, and there’s a full moon, which only increases the effects.

Was heading out for pizza this evening with friends…l’abbiamo rinviato, needless to say…

Waders and Wellies

Stivali - 1

Not that we expect another historic flood tomorrow, but as a result of not being able to get out of the house on Monday because the water was higher than my Wellie-height boots, I am now on the hunt for a pair of waders. These will also come in handy in case I ever want to masquerade as a fly fisherman, or, should I ever have the opportunity to scavenge for peoci (much more likely).

Stopped in yesterday at the hardware store (as they’d be more likely to stock waders than a shoe store), expecting them to be sold out as of Monday, and of course, they were. They gave me suggestions as to other places to check that would also be sold out. Arrivano ancora? I asked. “No, we won’t get anymore.” Fine. OK, we’re in the first month of high-water season, and we are out of boot stock with none on the way. Another customer, an older gentleman, chuckled.

There’s a saying in Venetian, he said, and translated it into Italian for me, just in case. “Fanno come vogliano: il tempo, i cani, e i padroni.” They do as they please: the weather, dogs, and proprietors.

If you’re in giro and you spot any waders, would you let me know? Sarei molto grata…I’d be very grateful!

[Found ’em: Al Botegon on Via Garibaldi, on the right just before the park entrance.]

Stay away – don't – stay away – don't stay away!

Somebody said that somebody said that Mayor Cacciari said that people should stay away from Venice, “for some incomprehensible reason tied to some presumed danger.”

He intended it, evidently, for those few hours when we were up to our earlobes in the marea, and the city was just struggling to address the situation. He didn’t really mean it as a long-term sort of command, and is calling for some sort of companion press releases in English to help avoid the situation in the future.

“Far be it from me and any intention I have to invite who-knows-who not to come to Venice; and even worse, to over-drammatize the situation.”

I translated his comments, of course.