Venice experiencing worst floods in 50 years

Exceptional high tides, exacerbated by strong storms and blown by seasonal winds, have combined to drive Venetian floodwaters to their second-highest levels since records began.

THE ICONIC ITALIAN city of Venice is under siege from floodwaters that have risen to levels not seen in 53 years, driven by a combination of extreme high tides, strong storms, and a city that has been sinking almost since it was built.

Called aqua alta, or high water, Venice’s tides happen annually in November and December, when seasonal winds drive strong high tides up canals, through drains, and into the streets of the city. This week’s flooding was second only to the waters that inundated the city in 1966, when levels passed 6 feet.

The elevated platforms set up above the regular flooding in St. Mark’s Square to allow for foot traffic were no match for these high tides, according to news reports; authorities removed them so that they wouldn’t float away.

See more photos and continue reading here.