Low tides are common in Venice during January and February in Venice–but not like those observed in the past week–reduced levels which have left many of the city’s famed gondolas stuck in the mud.

The low tides appear to be a product of astronomical forces intertwined with the ongoing drought in the region. In addition, a sprawling high pressure across the region, responsible for abnormally early spring-level temps, has produced a wind pattern contributing to the drop in water levels.


Alps snowfall–a critical source of water in the region, which feeds Italy’s lakes and rivers, has run at half the normal and rivers and lakes across Italy are down. Critical to one-third of Italy’s agricultural region, the Po River flows at 61% of its typical capacity.

A state of emergency was declared in the Po River Valley last summer during a devastating drought coupled with broiling temps which gripped Italy and a wide stretch of Europe. Italy’s Lake Garda, its largest lake, is at its lowest level in 35 years, according to The Guardian.

The Associated Press reports Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist and sustainable development analyst with We Are Here Venice, explains a mid-winter, high atmospheric pressure system and the wind circulation it’s produced combined with the lunar cycle creates the ultra-low water levels during ebb tide.

Though abnormally dry weather isn’t the sole cause of the water situation in Venice, it is contributing. This winter has been abysmally dry there and follows Italy’s worst drought- which stretched across Europe– in seven decades.

The Eco Watch newsletter quotes climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui from the Italian scientific research institute CNR saying, “We are in a water shortage building up since the winter of 2020-2021, it needs to recover 500mm (21.65″) in the north-western regions: we need 50 days of rain.”

Venice is built on 120 small islands, and travel through the so-called “floating city” takes place by boat. It’s been subject to catastrophic flooding and is vulnerable to rising sea levels which worst-case scenarios suggest could submerge it by 2100.



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