Gondolas stranded in Venice: a phenomenon of low tides dry the canals

Gondolas beached in Venice: a low tide phenomenon ;es drys out the channels


Strange sight in Venice, where the low tides of recent days in the lagoon have dried up some canals of the Serenissima, offering tourists the unusual spectacle of gondolas stranded on mud banks. 

However, this is an “absolutely normal” phenomenon, Alvise Papa, head of the Venice tide forecasting center, told AFP on Tuesday. “About 70% of low tide phenomena occur precisely during this period, from January to February”.

Low tides are not enough to dry out the canals, but this year they are accompanied by high atmospheric pressure within an anticyclone preventing the arrival of disturbances. Winter disturbances, accompanied by wind and rain, usually amplify the amplitude of the tides, which is not the case this year.

“Until 2007-2008, we witnessed (this phenomenon, editor's note) every year, then we no longer had low tides like those recorded in recent days”, he observed, while the foundations buildings along certain canals are exposed, arousing the curiosity of tourists.

A spectacle all the more paradoxical as the City of the Doges is usually threatened by the opposite phenomenon of the “acqua alta », a particularly high tide that regularly floods the famous Piazza San Marco. An invasion that entertains tourists, but jeopardizes the foundations of the old palaces of the Serenissima, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since October 2020, a system of artificial dikes baptized MOSE (Moses in Italian) are triggered as soon as the rise in the waters of the Adriatic Sea reaches an alert level of 110 cm.

Asked about a possible link between the spectacular tide low in recent days and the episode of drought affecting part of Europe or global warming, the expert replied in the negative.

“From tomorrow (Wednesday, editor's note), we will return to a normal situation,” he concluded in a reassuring tone.