Rhine closed to shipping between Duisburg and Koblenz due to high waters

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to sail on after high waters brought shipping to a standstill on a 180km stretch of the Rhine on Sunday night.

Rhine closed to shipping between Duisburg and Koblenz due to high waters
Flooding of the Rhine, Koblenz. Photo: DPA

After the recent heavy rains in Germany, the Rhine river has been temporarily closed to all shipping between Duisburg and Koblenz, WDR 1 reports.

“As soon as the water level climbs over 8.3 metres, that happens, ” a spokesman for the water police told WDR 1.

Around Cologne, water levels have been far above the critical height of 8.3 metres since Sunday evening, meaning ships currently do not have enough space to sail under bridges in the area.

The Rhine is expected to be at its highest around Monday and Tuesday before water levels begin to drop due to drier weather, but shipping can only recommence once water levels drop below 8.2 metres.

On Sunday evening water levels rose to 8.61 metres in Cologne before reaching 8.75 metres by Monday morning and are expected to peak at around 9 metres before starting to drop as the day goes on.

Meanwhile in Düsseldorf, where the Rhine is wider, flood levels rose from 8.06 metres to 8.25 metres, but these levels are also expected to drop as the afternoon goes on.

Overall the Rhine has experienced its highest water levels in two years but this is no reason to panic.

The water levels are not likely to pose a threat as there is only a danger of flooding in Cologne's Altstadt if the waters of the Rhine reach 11 metres or more. 

What's more the affected cities are well prepared for the height of the flood. For example, protection has been set up at the Altstadt gates in Cologne and 40,000 sandbags were made available for use in Düsseldorf on Sunday evening.


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.