| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Italy faces new drought alert as Venice canals run dry

Since the Alps have only gotten less than half of their typical snowfall, scientists and environmental organizations are worried that Italy may experience another drought after the crises of last summer.

The warning comes as Venice has exceptionally low tides that are making it difficult for gondolas, water taxis, and ambulances to negotiate parts of its iconic canals. Flooding is often Venice’s main worry.

The problems in Venice are being blamed on a combination of factors — the lack of rain, a high pressure system, a full moon and sea currents.

Italian rivers and lakes are suffering from severe lack of water, the Legambiente environmental group said on Monday, with attention focused on the north of the country.

The Po, Italy’s longest river which runs from the Alps in the northwest to the Adriatic has 61% less water than normal at this time of year, it added in a statement.

Last July Italy declared a state of emergency for areas surrounding the Po, which accounts for roughly a third of the country’s agricultural production and suffered its worst drought for 70 years.

“We are in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021,” climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui from Italian scientific research institute CNR was quoted as saying by daily Corriere della Sera.

The northwestern regions need to receive 500 millimeters of rain over the course of 50 days, he continued.

Northern Italy’s Lake Garda has experienced record-low water levels, making it feasible to walk across an open causeway to the tiny island of San Biagio.

Western Europe has seen warm temperatures typical of late spring for the past 15 days thanks to an anticyclone.

However, according to the most recent weather predictions, the Alps will see much-needed precipitation and snow in the following days.

  • Reuters