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'Acqua Alta' floods much of Venice

ABOVE: Elevated walkways help tourists cope with acqua alta at St. Mark's Basilica.

Acqua alta, or "high water," has flooded Venice again. The water level on Wednesday, December 23 reached 146 cm, or 56.6 inches--less than last year's peak of 160 cm or 63 inches (which was the highest in 20 years), but high enough to cover an estimated 60 per cent of the city's streets and squares.

Venetians are used to acqua alta, which happens when high tide, low atmospheric pressure, a scirocco wind blowing up the narrow Adriatic Sea, and other factors push water into the Venetian Lagoon, over the tops of canals, and up through drains. It's been a frequent occurrence in recent weeks, so bring rubber boots--or maybe even your trout-fishing waders--if you're coming to Venice soon. For more about the phenomenon, see our illustrated acqua alta article at


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