Speed Reads

stranded gondolas

Venice canals run dry amid drought fears in Italy

After weeks of little rain or snowfall and unusually low tides, concerns are mounting that Italy could face another drought after dangerously dry conditions led to a national emergency last summer, CNN reports. 

In Venice, "where flooding is normally the primary concern," the low water flow has caused the city's famous canals to run dry, "making it impossible for gondolas, water taxis, and ambulances to navigate," CNN writes. The lack of rain or snowfall has exacerbated the atypically low tides, which have been attributed to a "high-pressure system, a full moon, and sea currents."

Italy's rivers and lakes are experiencing a severe lack of water, particularly in the northern part of the country, the Legambiente environmental group said. The group added that the Po, the longest Italian river that runs from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, has 61 percent less water than expected for this time of year. The Alps have received less than half their average snowfall this winter, per CNN. Last summer, a state of emergency was declared in the region surrounding the Po, "which accounts for roughly a third of the country's agricultural production and suffered its worst drought for 70 years."

"Nothing has changed since 2022," said Luca Mercalli, president of the Italian Meteorological Society, per The Guardian. Italy is still "in a situation of deficit," but Mercalli believes spring rain could compensate for the water shortage. "If we have no spring rain for two consecutive years then it would be the first time this has ever happened," he added. 

Western European weather has been dominated by an anticyclone, which has brought "mild temperatures more normally seen in late spring," CNN writes. However, the latest weather forecasts "signal the arrival of much-needed precipitation and snow in the Alps in coming days."