Nov
10

Acqua alta update

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Watching the various weather signs yesterday morning as closely as a jungle tracker (or desert tracker, or suburban mother looking for a parking place at the mall), I realized fairly early that the Warnings which I was following were turning out to have been perhaps slightly excessive.

Caution is a superb thing and we should all have more of it, except for when we shouldn’t, I mean. But I have the sensation — and so does Lino — that a certain amount of exaggeration has crept into the whole business of predicting acqua alta. Why?

This is what water announced by the siren plus one tone looked like at 11:30 outside our house. The tide was just about ready to turn.

This is what water announced by the siren plus one tone looked like at 11:30 outside our house. The tide was just about ready to turn.

One reason, and I’m just hypothesizing here, could be that the people in the Tide Center (particularly its battle-hardened director, Paolo Canestrelli, who would feel perfectly at home with Field Marshal Montgomery) are up to here with the shrieking imprecations from people inconvenienced by a change in the situation from the earlier prediction to the reality suddenly underfoot.

As I have already noted, the weather picture can change.  Get over it.

Another reason — here, let me move that firing-range target to the side and stand there in its place — could be the relentless need for the many forces involved in the MOSE project to instill public dread of water on the ground.  Even brief articles in the Gazzettino which mention a (not “the,” but “a”) possibility of high water the following day don’t bear down too hard on the word “possibility.” They like the effect the words “acqua alta” have on people, if put in a way that makes it sound as if you need to head for the storm cellar.

Acqua alta is always very clear.

Acqua alta is always very clear.

In any case, just remember that any article that you may read that implies, or even says, that “Venice was flooded” is a bit excessive.  We didn’t get any water on our ground and we’re in Venice.  Is San Marco’s high water better than ours?  Prettier?  Wetter?

If you have any interest in the damage water can seriously do to people, places and things, don’t get fixated on Venice, but look at other areas of the Veneto such as Vicenza and Verona, and even in Tuscany, over the past few days. Torrential rains, bursting riverbanks, highways and roads blocked and even broken by racing water, mudslides obliterating houses and the helpless people within them (like the mother and her two-year-old son whose bodies were dug out of their mud-filled house, still clinging to each other) — these are events involving water which deserve more publicity than they get.

Actually, “mudslide” is too innocuous a word for what happened in Tuscany after days of rain. Essentially a huge chunk of melting mountain just broke off and fell on this family’s house.  Just like that.  No warning sirens, no time to do anything except die.  There are many families who have lost everything.  Some people have drowned.

Parts of the Veneto have now been declared disaster areas.  Venice was not on the list.

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Categories : Nature, Problems, Water

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