Flash Floods: Flash flood caused by the heaviest rainfall has left dozens dead and several thousand missing in Western Europe.
Record rainfall in Western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, devastating the region.
- Germany has been the worst affected with fast-moving torrents of water inundating entire towns and villages in western and southern parts.
- The country is experiencing one of its worst weather disasters since World War II.
- At least 80 people have died and hundreds more are unaccounted for in Germany after some of the worst floodings in decades.
- The Rhineland-Palatinate state in Germany is one of the worst-affected regions with around 1,300 people “assumed” to be missing in the district of Ahrweiler, as per the local government.
- Along with the Rhineland-Palatinate state, the German regions of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Saarland have also been heavily affected.
- Some 15,000 police, soldiers and emergency service workers are at the scene to aid with search and rescue, while helicopters picked stranded residents from rooftops and tanks cleared roads of fallen trees and debris.
- Belgium has also reported at least 12 dead after the extreme weather, which political leaders have blamed on climate change.
- The village of Schuld was almost entirely destroyed. Officials say, a major dam near the Belgian border, the Rurtalsperre, is overflowing slightly.
- Around 1800 people had to evacuate in the town of Chaudfontaine, in Liège province.
- The Netherlands is also badly affected, with further flooding in Luxembourg and Switzerland.
- The Meuse River in Limburg was predicted to burst out of its banks and reach its highest level in 200 years.
- Several municipalities in Limburg province have declared a state of emergency making evacuation compulsory.
- The Luxembourg government has set up a crisis cell to respond to emergencies triggered by heavy rains overnight.
- Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel reported that “several homes” have been flooded and were “no longer inhabitable”.
Scientists have repeatedly warned that human-induced climate change would bring pulses of extreme rainfall such as this one.
About Flash Floods:
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas: washes, rivers, dry lakes, and depressions.
- It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.
- Huge amounts of water flowing in rivers are due to incessant heavy rains and the melting of snow, resulting in severe flooding.
- They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.
- They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall.
- Flash floods induce severe impacts in both the built and the natural environment.
- Flash floods can rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them.
- Especially within urban areas, the effects of flash floods can be catastrophic and show extensive diversity, ranging from damages in buildings and infrastructure to impacts on vegetation, human lives and livestock.
- An impact severity scale is proposed in 2020 providing a coherent overview of the flash flood effects through the classification of impact types and severity and mapping their spatial extent in a continuous way across the floodplain.
- Depending on the affected elements, the flood effects are grouped into 4 categories:
- Impacts on the built environment
- Impacts on man-made mobile objects,
- Impacts on the natural environment (including vegetation, agriculture, geomorphology, and pollution)
- Impacts on the human population (entrapments, injuries, fatalities).
The scale was proposed as a tool for prevention planning, as the resulting maps offer insights on future impacts, highlighting the high severity areas.