The term acqua alta, or high water, refers to the tide peaks that occur with increasing regularity in some parts of the Veneto, but most famously in Venice.
This weather event is caused by a combination of factors. High tides mixed with the northerly scirocco wind prevent the normal outflow of water that keeps la serinissma above water. The peak months are November, December, and October (in that order). Acqua alta is rarely, if ever, seen in the Summer months.
In late October and early November of this year, the high water reached a depth of over 4 feet, in the lowest-lying areas. This is some of the worst flooding Venice has seen in a decade.
The water creeps into houses, shops and cafès where many locals sip their coffee wading to the bar in rain boots. Temporary wooden platforms are erected across the piazze to help people go on about their daily business above water.
The city’s MOSE project is due for completion in 2014, which will close off the lagoon during exceptionally high tides.