Close-up of a flooded river. Credit: Tomasz Zajda

Devastating European floods

6 May 2013 10:00 UTC–9 June 10:00 UTC

Close-up of a flooded river. Credit: Tomasz Zajda
Close-up of a flooded river. Credit: Tomasz Zajda

The worst floods for a decade devastated parts of Europe in June 2013.

Last Updated

03 October 2023

Published on

06 May 2013

Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in parts of Germany, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. Weeks of torrential rainfall massively increased water levels. The Elbe and Danube rivers, among others, swelled to the point of overflow, levees were breached and dams ruined.

Frame from animation 26/05/13 10:00 UTC
Figure 1: Frame from animation 26/05/13 10:00 UTC

The German weather service Deutscher Wetterdienst , reported that parts of Germany had almost twice as much rainfall than usual in May, making it the second-wettest May since records began in 1881.

Figure 2: Meteosat-10 IR with Multisensor Precipitation Estimate (MPE) overlaid, 10:00 UTC on 26 May to 10:00 on 9 June 2013, every two hours,

The background image is the infrared (10.8 micron) image from MSG. The EUMETSAT MPE (Multisensor Precipitation Estimate) product has been overlaid.

The MPE shows the rainfall as estimated from satellite data (the coloured areas). This is similar to the products that can be seen from rainfall radars. The MPE is most useful when there are no rainfall radar data. The image above is the colour scale which shows the amount of rain the MPE estimated, in mm per hour.

In this two week period a number of weather systems can be seen bringing rain to southern Germany, leading to excess water in the river systems and to the flooding that was seen in the early days of June.

In the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the Saale, a tributary of the Elbe, rose almost 8m above its normal level, while the Elbe itself rose 5m above normal in places.

According to the Austrian weather service, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik , the country had as much rain in two days in June as it would in more than two months. 150 to 200mm of rain (5.9 to 7.9in of rain) fell, with some places having around 250mm (9.8in). Salzburg, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg were the worst hit places.