2003 driest year in recent memory in Czech Republic


The Czech Republic seems to be experiencing one weather extreme after another. Last year, the country saw the worst flooding in 500 years. This year a long and very hot summer combined with lower rainfall than usual to make 2003 one of the driest years in recent memory.

Damaged crops, higher requirements for watering in agriculture and in some cases even cracks in buildings. Those are only a few of the many negative consequences of this year's extreme drought. Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture asked the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute to conduct a study analyzing the impact of drought on the surface resources of drinking water. Radim Tolasz from the Hydro-meteorological Institute explains more about the study.

"The main goal was to prepare the assessment of the draught situation in the Czech Republic. We found that in the precipitation situation we have only 60 percent of long term average and the temperatures this year were approximately two degrees Celsius higher then the average. The combination of those two factors is not good for central Europe."

This year's weather conditions are unusual for central Europe. However Mr. Tolasz does not consider the current situation alarming, because the greatest drop in rainfall occurred in regions, where a lack of rain does not cause major problems, such as in the mountains. But if there is not enough snow in the winter and next spring is dry too, serious problems in terms of surface resources of drinking water could occur next year. The study can not give an exact forecast for next year's situation. It is intended to show politicians that a lack of drinking water could occur and teach them to be always ready for an extreme weather situation.

"Climatologists often warn that weather extremes will occur more often, this situation has been predicted twenty years ago. Politicians must think about this when for example preparing the budget for next year."

Some newspapers in the Czech Republic have described the findings of this study as a "one in 100 years drought". But Mr. Tolasz warns, that this term can be misleading. It is only a statistical category that changes every year according to the current weather situation. Mr. Tolasz explains more.

"It is important to stress that the 'hundred years drought' can occur every year - the last 'one hundred years drought' was in 2000."

As a result of this misleading term, Mr. Tolasz and his team often face complaints from people who believe, that once a "hundred years drought" or for example flood has come, it will take another hundred years to see another one.