The central European floods of August 2002: Part 1 - Rainfall periods and flood development
Ulbrich, U., Brücher, T., Fink, A. H., Leckebusch, G. C., Krüger, A. and Pinto, J. G. (2003) The central European floods of August 2002: Part 1 - Rainfall periods and flood development. Weather, 58 (10). pp. 371-377. ISSN 0043-1656
To link to this article DOI: 10.1256/wea.61.03A
Record-breaking rainfall amounts and intensities were observed at several raingauges in central Europe during the first half of August 2002 (Fig. 1). They produced flash floods in small rivers in the Erz Mountains, the Bohemian Forest and in Lower Austria (see Fig. 2), followed by record-breaking floods of larger rivers fed from these areas. The Vltava submerged parts of the city of Prague on 13± 15 August, and subsequently the Elbe flooded parts of Dresden and further villages and towns located downstream. The gauge level of 9.40m measured at Dresden on 17 August 2002 is the highest level since 1275, exceeding the former maximum level of 8.77m recorded in 1845 (Grollmann and Simon 2002). Parts of the Danube catchment were also affected by severe flooding. There were 100 fatalities connected with the floods in central Europe, and the economic loss is estimated at 9 billion Euros for Germany (German government’s estimate), 3 billion Euros for Austria, and 2.5 billion Euros for the Czech Republic (estimates from Boyle 2002). The event thus replaced the European winter storm Lothar of December 1999 (Ulbrich et al. 2001) as the most expensive weather-related catastrophe in Europe in recent decades (see Cornford 2002). In this study, we give an overview of the exceptional rainfall experienced over wide areas on 12/13 August 2002, and the resulting floods. Further events during early August 2002, in particular the event on 6/7 August in Lower Austria, are briefly mentioned.