Italy – Floods and Storm Surge Prompt Rescues and Evacuations

A wave of severe weather swept across Italy from 22 November 2022, including strong winds, high waves, storm surge and heavy rain. Emergency services carried out 2,500 interventions in 8 regions.

Storms surge and coastal floods in Cesenatico, province of Forlì-Cesena in the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy, November 2022. Photo: Mayor of Cesenatico

Italy’s fire service Vigili del Fuoco reported a total of 2,500 interventions due to severe weather in 24 hours to 23 November 2022, including 715 in Lazio Region; 480 in Campania; 470 in Sardinia; 200 in Sicily; 300 in Veneto; 210 in Emilia Romagna and 180 in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Local media said the severe weather was brought by Storm Denise , which also affected the French island of Corsica. Many of the interventions were in response to damage caused by strong winds, including roofs ripped off buildings, and downed trees, branches and power lines. Vigili del Fuoco reported winds of more than 100 km/h in Trieste in Friuli Venezia Giulia Region. Stormy weather and rough seas also affected areas in Sicily where ferry services were disrupted from the port at Milazzo.

Flood Rescues and Evacuations

Firefighters also had to carry out several rescues or evacuations in response to flash flooding, landslides, overflowing rivers and storm surge floods.

Heavy rain caused some flooding in the Province of Oristano in Sardinia on 22 November. Several people were evacuated in the small town of Bosa.

Flash flooding and overflowing rivers prompted numerous flood rescues and evacuations in the Campania region, including in Castellammare di Stabia near Naples, where the Sarno river broke its banks, and in Pellezzano in the province of Salerno.

Two people were rescued from flood waters from the overflowing Po di Volano river in Codigoro in the Province of Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna region.

One person was rescued from a vehicle swept away by flood waters in Piancastagnaio in the Province of Siena, Tuscany Region.

Flood rescue in Piancastagnaio, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, 22 November 2022. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco, Siena

Storm Surge Floods

Crashing waves, high tides and storm surge flooded shores along Italy’s coastline. Coastal flooding was reported in the provinces of Rome and Latina in the Lazio Region. New Agency ANSA reported a tidal barrier was severely damaged in Ostia. Firefighters rescued families trapped in 1 meter deep floods in coastal areas near Anzio.

On the Adriatic Coast, storm surge and high seas flooded coastal areas of Emilia-Romagna Region in the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Ferrara, Rimini and Ravenna. Flooding was also reported in coastal areas of the Marche Region, including Marina di Montemarciano and Senigallia.

Storms surge and coastal floods in Cesenatico, province of Forlì-Cesena in the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy, November 2022. Photo: Mayor of Cesenatico

Venice Flood Barrier

Venice also faced flooding from high tides (referred to as acqua alta), recording a level of 1.73 metres on 22 November, the third highest ever recorded. ANSA news agency said that the flood barriers system saved the city from flooding again.

The flood barrier system in Venice is named MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, Experimental Electromechanical Module).

“MOSE is facing the highest tide in 50 years and without those barriers Venice would be submerged in a catastrophic way, and despite the nay-sayers those barriers are saving a heritage of humanity,” said Transport and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini.

The highest tide of 1.93 metres was recorded 04 November 1966, and the second highest 1.87m on 12 November 2019.

High tides in Venice, Italy, November 2022. Image: Comune Venezia

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