Scientists and environmental groups are concerned Italy could face another drought after last summer’s emergency, as weeks of dry winter weather has seen the Alps received less than half of their normal snowfall.
The warning is heightened by the low tides that are making it impossible for gondolas, water taxis and ambulances to navigate some of its famous canals in Venice, where flooding is normally the primary concern.
The low tides in Venice have been linked to a combination of factors that includes lack of rain, a high pressure system, a full moon and sea currents.
Italian rivers and lakes are suffering from severe lack of water, the Legambiente environmental group said on Monday, with attention focused on the north of the country, adding that the Po, Italy’s longest river which runs from the Alps in the northwest to the Adriatic has 61% less water than normal at this time of year, it added in a statement.
Italy suffered its worst drought for 70 years last years and declared a state of emergency for areas surrounding the Po, which accounts for roughly a third of the country’s agricultural production.
“We are in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021,” climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui from Italian scientific research institute CNR was quoted as saying by daily Corriere della Sera.
“We need to recover 500 millimetres in the north-western regions: we need 50 days of rain,” he added.
Water levels on Lake Garda in northern Italy have fallen to record lows, making it possible to reach the small island of San Biagio on the lake via an exposed pathway, but latest weather forecasts do however signal the arrival of much-needed precipitation and snow in the Alps in coming days.
Story was adapted from Reuters.