December 8, 2023

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Italy’s iconic Venetian canals go dry amid drought – NBC Boston

Some of Venice’s small canals have practically dried up due to a long tidal wave, frustrated boat crews and bewildered tourists.

Experts say that the prolonged stretch of tides is linked to a prolonged high-weather regime across much of Italy.

With canals essentially serving as streets in car-free Venice, the latter-day phenomenon has added to the challenges of daily life in the lagoon city. Ambulance boats in some cases had to tie up farther from their destination, sometimes forcing medical personnel to deliver portable stretchers over long distances since their ships could not progress through channels that had been reduced to a drop of water and mud.

Boats docked along a canal during low tide in Venice, Italy, on Monday, February 20, 2023. Some secondary canals in Venice have practically dried up recently due to a prolonged tidal wave associated with a persistent high-pressure weather system.

For tourists, this meant that gondolas could not navigate some of the minor waterways that pass under Venice’s many picturesque bridges.

Jane Da Mosto, an ecologist and sustainable development analyst for We Are Here Venice, an environmental advocacy group, noted that in the middle of winter, high atmospheric pressure combined with the lunar cycle causes water levels to drop during low tide.

She added that this phenomenon highlights the lack of attention to the belated need to clean up Venice’s inner canal network.

Navigation continued on the major, wider waterways, including the Grand and Giudecca canals.

Separately, the same high-pressure system exacerbated by scarce snowmelt in the Alps this year has been a factor in the wilting of lakes and rivers in northern Italy in recent weeks. This month, an isthmus connecting the shores of Lake Garda to a small island re-emerged, much to the delight of visitors who were able, in fact, to partially walk across the center of the lake.

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