Europe – Storms Bring Damaging Floods to Parts of Northern and Central Europe

Severe weather has once again caused flash flooding and mudslides in parts of northern and central Europe.

Severe storms hit parts of northern Europe on 24 May, moving to south eastern Germany and Czech Republic the next day.  Storms have continued intermittently over the last few days. Some of the most severe were seen between 31 May and 01 June, 2018, where heavy rain caused flooding in areas of Belgium, northern and eastern France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria.


France experienced violent thunderstorms overnight 31 May to 01 June, particularly in the north and east of the country.

Local media report 40 mm of rain fell overnight in Alsace. Flooding swept through the town of Gougenheim, dragging cars and causing severe damage. Flooding was also reported in nearby Achenheim.

Further north, several areas of Pas-de-Calais were particularly badly affected by the heavy rain and flooding, local media reported.

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In Germany, overnight rain (31 May to 01 June) caused severe damage in the villages of Bliesransbach and Kleinblittersdorf in Saarland. Local media said the whole village was flooded after just 1 hour of rain, damaging streets and homes.

Elsewhere in Germany, parts of Soest in North Rhine-Westphalia, were flooded on 01 June, 2018. The old town was particularly badly hit, where the level of the Soestbach, a small river which runs through the city, jumped over 150 cm in just 1 hour. Emergency services received over 500 calls for assistance during the floods, according to local media.

Soestbach levels, May to June 2018. Image: Government of North Rhine-Westphalia

Flooding in Lünebach in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, caused a scare when a bear escaped from a zoo after flooding broke the fence around its enclosure. Officials later shot the bear after finding him on one of the zoo’s public paths. Initially it was thought several wild cats had also escaped. The animals were later found hidden in their enclosures.

The Eifel zoo is not the only zoo to face problems during flooding. In 2013, dozens of animals had to be relocated during flooding in Prague. Ussuriysk zoo in Russia was evacuated during flooding in September 2015. Dozens of animals, including wolves, tigers and lions, escaped a zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, during the floods of June 2015.

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Eastern areas were badly affected by the storm on Friday, 01 June. Some areas recorded around 90 mm of rain in 24 hours, causing levels of the Sauer and Our rivers to increase rapidly.

Flooding and landslides were reported in Bartringen, Heisdorf, Wasserbillig and Echternach. At least 18 people had to be rescued from a campsite near Müllerthal, where homes and roads were also flooded.

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In Belgium, parts of Liège province saw severe flooding for the second time in 7 days. Streets of Fléron, Liège province, were up to 1 metre deep in flood water, leaving cars stranded and passengers requiring rescue services.

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In Austria, severe flash flooding was reported in Grafenschachen and Loipersdorf in Burgenland on 01 June, 2018. Flooding was also reported in parts of Carinthia, including Wolfsberg district.

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A Week of Stormy Weather

Many of these areas were hit by heavy rain and flooding from 24 May. The stormy wet weather has continued since then.

A village in the state of Hessen, Gemany, has seen four mudslides in the last 4 days, according to local media. Wuppertal in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, suffered severe damage after flooding on 29 May, 2018.