Floodwaters recede but Brandenburg still on alert

Parts of the eastern German state of Brandenburg remained on alert Tuesday afternoon, with flood waters gradually receding but rain forecast for later in the week.

Floodwaters recede but Brandenburg still on alert
Residents get their feet wet in the town of Gubin. Photo: DPA

Clean-up operations were underway, meanwhile, in the neighbouring state of Saxony, which was severely affected by the flooding at the weekend.

Water levels on the flooded Neiße and Spree rivers in Brandenburg were sinking and evacuations were put on hold.

But warnings were still in place for many parts, including the city of Cottbus, southeast of Berlin. It was critical for Cottbus that the flood waters did not swell, said Matthias Freude, the head of Brandenburg’s state environment office. This remained a “very sensitive issue,” Freude said.

The highest water levels around Cottbus were expected on Tuesday afternoon.

On a brighter note, Freude added: “For the Spree, I think all the major problems have been resolved.”

On the Spremberg dam, which has played a key role in coping with the Spree flood waters, everything was going to plan, with high waters being channelled successfully to the north.

But Brandenburg premier Matthias Platzeck warned: “We must not let the damns fill up because rain has been forecast.”

Floodgates in the reservoir on the Spree were opened Tuesday morning, causing 30 cubic metres of water to drain out every second. This later increased to 70 cubic metres per second. Another reservoir further upstream drained 100 cubic metres per second, Freude said.

The situation around Guben in Brandenburg remained tense. Around midday the water level reached 6.27 metres but peaked there. Streets were flooded and a highway blocked. About 180 people who had been forced to leave their homes in the town of Klein Bademeusel were able to return Tuesday.

To the south of Guben, residents of the town of Grießen had a stroke of luck: the dike broke but the small town was not flooded.

In Saxony, meanwhile, things were returning to comparative normality. The UNESCO heritage-listed Fürst Pückler Park in Bad Muskau, on the Neiße River, was completely flooded, but damage turned out to be limited.

“We’ve had luck,” said the acting head of the Fürst Pückler Park foundation, Cornelia Wenzel.

In the region of Görlitz, the flood warnings had finished and Saxony’s Finance Ministry announced that about €1 million would immediately be made available to fix damaged roads. The first clean-up operations had also begun.

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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.