Areas of Czech Republic threatened by drought

Since February the Czech Republic has seen unusually low precipitation levels, which, combined with last winter's lack of greater snow cover, has led to low water capacity in the soil. The result is the possibility of damaging drought hitting parts of the country. And with the forecast for the coming weeks predicting little rain, the situation is not likely to get better soon.

Earlier I spoke with Radim Tolasz, deputy director of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and asked him how he saw recent developments:

"Simply stated the situation is very, very critical, brought about by the lack of precipitation in the area of the Czech Republic since January this year; in fact the availability water capacity in the soil now is below fifty percent in the whole of the Czech Republic. That's an average, but in some places it is much worse: in southern Moravia and the lowlands of Bohemian like the Elbe River basin near Hradec Kralove, Pardubice, Usti nad Labem available water capacity in the soil is below twenty percent. That is a problem for Czech agriculture now and not the only one. On Saturday the Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a warning on increased danger of forest fires and fire probability in the Czech Republic. We don't expect much rainfall this week or the weeks after. The situation is similar to the years 2000 and 2003 when there was similar drought in the Czech Republic."

RP: You mentioned earlier draught there in 2003: do you have any idea of the kind of damages that could be suffered by the agriculture industry if the dry spell continues, based on what came before?

"I think that it is not the right time to speak about damages. We simply don't know what will be the situation for the second half of May and June. Normally June in the Czech Republic sees high precipitation. At this time we just don't know."

Do Czechs, as other central Europeans, have to get used to more extreme weather in the future?

"I think that's true. That is the reason why we as climatologists speak so often about climate change. In Central Europe we can speak about extremes: it's not important whether the average mean temperature will be two or six degrees above normal. What is important are the extremes."

If you're interested please look up details at the institute's website where you can find out about areas threatened by the danger of forest fires or view a map of areas with low moisture levels in the soil. The website to visit is www.chmi.cz where you'll find information in both English and Czech.