Some of Venice’s smaller canals have practically dried up from a prolonged period of low tide, frustrating boat crews and bewildering tourists.
Experts say the extended period of low and high tides is linked to an ongoing high-pressure weather system over much of Italy.
Since the canals essentially serve as streets in car-free Venice, the phenomenon of recent days has increased the challenges of daily life in the lagoon city. Ambulance boats have in some cases had to dock farther from their destination, sometimes requiring medical crews to carry stretchers by hand over long distances, as their ships cannot pass through canals reduced to a trickle of water and mud.
For tourists, this meant that gondolas couldn’t navigate some of the secondary waterways that pass under Venice’s many picturesque bridges.
In midwinter, high atmospheric pressure combined with the lunar cycle causes the ultra-low water levels during low tide, noted Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist and sustainable development analyst with We Are Here Venice, an environmental advocacy group.
She added that the phenomenon points to a lack of attention to the overdue need to clean Venice’s inner canal network.
Navigation continued on the wider main waterways, including the Grand and Giudecca canals.
Separately, the same high-pressure system, exacerbated by sparse snowmelt in the Alps this year, has been a factor in the shrinking of lakes and rivers in northern Italy in recent weeks. This month, another isthmus has emerged connecting the shores of Lake Garda to a small island, much to the delight of visitors who could, in fact, walk part of the middle of the lake.
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