The world-famous Italian city of Venice, known across the globe for its canals, has now seen its beloved canals dried up for the 2nd time in three years. A low tide and the scarcity of rain drove down water levels in the Venetian canals to historic lows. Multiple scenes of traditional Venetian boats known as Gondolas being stranded in the beds of the muddy canals were on display. The water levels in the Venetian canals fell down to about 19 inches below sea level, with the expectation to drop even lower.
The low tides are thought to be caused by a phenomenon called ‘Snow Moon’, which is a February full moon, and full moons cause the most amount of fluctuations in the sea tides of Venice. This February full moon is called a ‘snow moon’ because February being the month of the heaviest snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also because of Italy’s weather which makes the formation of clouds less likely and therefore results in the scarcity of rain.
In January 2018, the water levels fell down to about 26 inches below sea level. The all time record is is 33 inches below sea level, set in 2008. Venice authorities say that ‘on the days of new moon and full moon, the effects of sun and moon result in the highest tidal fluctuations’ which can be predicted years into the future.
A full moon can only occur when there is an alignment of the sun and the moon on the sky, which means that both the sun and the moon exert a powerful gravitational force causing a powerful pull on the planet’s oceans and seas, which in turn causes high and low tides.
The residents of Venice have also had to face flooding in recent years. In 2019, St. Mark’s Square of Venice was submerged in December 2019. The flooding of basements is not a rare occurrence in Venice, with this phenomenon having a localized term ‘Acqua alta’ (high water).
Annually, Venice hosts more than five million tourists a year. However this was severely affected with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused much of Venice’s economy to shut down because of lockdown measures over the last year.