MoSE Passes its First Big Test in Venice, preventing another “Acqua Granda”

High tide and strong winds: Tuesday would have been the third biggest acqua alta ever, but instead the city remained “dry”.

23 November 2022

It was a day destined to remain in the memory of Venice and Venetians. More than 1.10 meters of difference between the sea levels recorded outside the Lido inlet (177 cm) and the Punta della Salute in the Canal Grande (66 cm). This gives some sense of what happened here on Tuesday, an image of Venice escaping danger. Had MoSE not been functioning, it would have been the third largest exceptional high tide in history, with levels of 173 cm recorded at the oceanographic measurement station of Piattatforma CNR, enough to have flooded almost all of the city.

With sea levels reaching 203 cm at Porto di Malamocco Nord and a record-breaking 209 cm at Bocca del Lido (in part due to accumulation of water blocked by MoSE), ISPRA has called yesterday’s weather/tide event “exceptional, with sea levels among the highest in history measured on the coast of the Upper Adriatic”.

The second-highest acqua alta happened almost exactly three years ago, on November 12, 2019, with water levels reaching 187 cm – just shy of the all-time record of 194 cm from 1966. Both of those events happened before MoSE was put into service, and the memories of the disaster that resulted just three years ago were on everyone’s mind yesterday morning as the rain fell and the wind blew.

Nevertheless, after decades of plans, scandals, mega-trials over the system of corruption and bribery, and with plenty of problems still yet to be resolved, starting with the work that remains incomplete and the considerable maintenance needs, yesterday MoSE worked. Venice did not flood at all thanks to the barriers at Treporti, San Nicolò, Malamocco and Chioggia at the end of a tense night in the MoSE control room for the first real stress-test of the dams.

It was a moment that has been awaited for six decades, if we consider that the first idea for a public work to protect Venice from the tides dates back to the late 1960s. The MoSE project itself dates back to 1982. Exactly forty years and 6 billion Euro later, it is finally functioning, and yesterday MoSE passed a major test. This morning Venice looks like Tuesday had been just another rainy day. For or against it, it’s safe to say that Venice is feeling grateful for MoSE today.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre/La Voce di Venezia

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