Czech Met Office says June storms are exceptional

Photo: CTK

The weather is the subject on the tip of everyone’s tongue just now following violent floods over the last week in the Czech Republic. Forecasters warn that there is still a risk of storms causing more deaths and damage. But just how exceptional has the recent weather been and is climate change partly to blame?

Photo: CTK
The violent storms of the last week that caused at least 13 deaths and billions of crowns of damage in the Czech Republic has everyone focused on the weather. With water levels continuing high in many parts of the country there is still a threat that floods could return to areas already hit or strike new regions. Away from the floods, even businesses and those not hit directly hit are complaining of the wash out summer so far.

The Czech Meteorological Institute has been monitoring water levels and the highly localised and violent storms that have been a characteristic of the latest floods. On the institute’s flood map of the Czech Republic flooded and high risk rivers are only dozens of kilometres away from rivers running at drought levels.

The specificity and violence of the latest floods sets them apart from the continuing downpour that caused the massive floods in August 2002 and the combination of the meltdown of snow and rain that fuelled the Spring floods of 2006. The institute’s Jan Pavlík says this month’s floods have been exceptional.

Photo: CTK
“Every summer we have a similar situation to this year. But this June the situation is a little stronger and we have stronger flash floods than usual and for a longer period than usual”

Mr Pavlík says higher temperatures this summer - around 2 degrees Celsius warmer than the average – have helped fill rain clouds and fuelled the heavy downpours. With up to 10 centimetres of rain falling at one time, these have transformed mild streams into violent torrents. And he believes global warming is also contributing to a more violent and less predictable Czech climate.

“This is a consequence of global warming that the thunder storms are probably stronger than they would be without global warming”

The short term outlook from the institute is that the threat of storms will continue over the next couple of days before brighter weather at the weekend. While Mr Pavlík is making no forecast for the rest of the summer, he is willing to predict that the trend of unstable and violent weather can only get worse over time.