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Number of high tide events in Venice 1966-2018, by water level

Venice had around 3,550 floods vetween 1966 and 2019. The majority were only minor floods, however: the water level remained under 90 cm above sea level in 60 percent of the cases over the considered period. Water levels higher than 170 cm were recorded only once: during the 1966 tide, when it peaked at 194 cm above sea level. In November 2019, Venice experienced another record tide, with a water level of 187 cm.

Seasonality of flooding events

On average, Venice flooded 67 times a year between 1966 and 2018. These events have a strong seasonal trend: the majority are concentrated in the period from October to March. During this period, the tidal reflux is hindered by the seasonal and local winds, combined with other weather phenomena.

The MOSE barrier

The flood barrier MOSE (in Italian: Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) was designed to shield Venice and the surrounding Lagoon from a sea-level rise up to three meters (9.9 feet). Thus, had it been operational, it could have protected the city from the ruinous 2019 flood. The barrier, however, won't be operational before 2022, having been under construction since 2003. The project is highly controversial: as of 2018, one in four Italians was against its construction. Many criticized the large delays and cost overruns it incurred, not to mention the corruption scandal uncovered in 2013. Other critics fear that the barrier will be ineffectual against the estimated sea-level rise that is going to occur in the future. Since the project is almost completed, however, the construction will continue.

Number of high tide events in the Italian city of Venice between 1966 and 2018, by water level*

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Release date

November 2019



Survey time period

1966 to 2018

Supplementary notes

*The tide level in Venice is measured from the reference point of Punta della Salute.

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