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WEATHER

Severe weather lashes central Europe

Heavy rains lashing parts of France, Germany and Austria killed four people, cut roads, stranded others on rooftops and forced schools to close their doors on Wednesday.

Severe weather lashes central Europe
Catherine Singleton/Flikr/Creative Commons

On Bavaria's south-eastern border with Austria, firefighters and other emergency services were dispatched to stricken towns where roads and bridges were cut and some residents had to seek refuge from the waters on rooftops.

“The floods came so quickly that people had to escape to the roofs of their houses,” a spokesman for the Lower Bavaria regional police said, adding that many streets were submerged.

In the town of Triftern, around 50 children and 25 adults bunked down in their school on Wednesday after being cut off by the waters.

Over the border in Austria, heavy rain lashed the Salzburg region, flooding several roads and forcing several schools to announce closures for Thursday.

More to come

Four bodies were found floating in homes in France and Germany on Wednesday in flash floods that left water lapping at the doors of one of the Loire Valley's most famous chateaux.

French weather forecasters warned of more to come on Thursday.

Three people who had been trapped in a house at Simbach am Inn in southern Germany were found dead, local authorities said, and police warned several other people could be on the ground floor of the building.

The body of an 86-year-old woman was found in her flooded house in Souppes-sur-Loing in central France, parts of which have been hit by the worst flooding in more than 100 years.

In one incident in southern Bavaria, emergency services rescued 20 members of a school group when a boat trip on the Regen river ran into trouble with strong currents sparked by a sudden storm, authorities said.

Elsewhere, in southern Germany the rains left trucks jackknifed on flooded roads at Simbach am Inn.

Four people died and a dozen were injured in the southern Baden-Wuerttemberg region between Sunday and Monday.

'Never seen this'

In Paris, many promenades along the Seine were closed due to the high waters, which the mayor's office predicted could rise by another metre in the coming days.

Fire services have already made 10,000 call-outs across the country since the rain began on Sunday, according to authorities.

Schools were closed and thousands of people were evacuated in central regions because of the flooding, which weather forecaster Meteo France described as “exceptional, worse than the floods of 1910”.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls will on Thursday visit Nemours, 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south of Paris, where residents had to be evacuated after the Loing river burst its banks.

“In 60 years of living here I have never seen this,” Sylvette Gounaud, a shopworker in Nemours said. “The centre of town is totally under water, all the shops are destroyed.”

The neighbouring Loiret region, home to the chateau of Chambord, saw the average rainfall of six weeks in just three days.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

IN PICTURES: How drought and extreme heat are affecting Austria

Europe has been hit by the worst drought in centuries and Austria has felt the effects of extreme heat and dry days. Here are the pictures that showcase the impact of drought on the Alpine nation.

IN PICTURES: How drought and extreme heat are affecting Austria

Temperatures have been high across Austria this summer and rainfall have been low. While many have welcomed the long, hot days, the heat has negatively affected Austria’s water reserves.

The hot and dry spring and summer mean communities in Vorarlberg and Upper Austria are running out of water.

In Langen near Bregenz, the drinking water tanks are empty and the municipality is therefore appealing to the population to only use water for personal hygiene and as drinking water for people and animals.

In Traunkirchen in Upper Austria, the population is also being called on to water their gardens with rainwater to save water due to shortages.

In July, the popular holiday location of Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland reached its lowest levels in almost 20 years. And as the lake is mainly fed by rainwater, it takes a long time for it to recover water levels after a drought.

READ ALSO: Austria and Hungary fight nature to stop lake vanishing

Austrian and Hungarian authorities were working to supply water to the lake, which is very important to both countries as a tourist destination and a food production region.

A man stands in front of a water level indicator in front of the marina in Neusiedl am See, Burgenland on June 5, 2022.(Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

As lake temperatures rise, Austria also needs to cope with the death of hundreds of fish. For example, when Zicksee lake dried out in Burgenland, workers were called to clear the dead fish in St Andrae am Zicksee.

Dead fish are pictured at the Zicksee lake in St. Andrae am Zicksee in Burgenland, Austria on July 20, 2022. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Similarly, forests in Lower Austria (including the Vienna Woods) are being hit by dry weather conditions due to low groundwater levels.

The record-breaking drought even resulted in forest fires in parts of the Alps during the past month, despite snow still coating the mountains.

READ ALSO: Smoking cigarettes in Austrian forests could cost you €7,270

This follows several years of little snow and rainfall in autumn and winter in the region, and forest managers are now debating the best course of action to tackle the problem.

Changes are also taking place in the Alps, with temperatures rising by nearly two degrees Celsius in the past 120 years — almost double the global average, according to the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA).

READ ALSO: Austrian scientists race to reveal melting glaciers’ secrets

In Tyrol, the Jamtal glacier has been losing about one metre (three feet) from its surface annually, but it has already lost more than a metre so far this year.

The Jamtal glacier has been losing about one metre (three feet) from its surface annually, but this year it has already lost more than a metre. (Photo by KERSTIN JOENSSON / AFP)

Even in the capital Vienna the drought and extreme heat are causing problems. For horses, temperatures above 35C can cause severe discomfort and force riders to halt the traditional (and very touristic) tours of the so-called fiaker in the city’s first district.

fiaker horse vienna austria summer weather heat

Fiaker horses are doused with water on a summer day in Vienna, Austria.(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

For people, the heat is dangerous and the capital provides its residents and visitors with several places where they can cool off – from public pools to “cooling centres”.

READ ALSO: Vienna’s free ‘cooling centre’ lets you avoid Austria’s stifling heat

Vienna cooling centre Austria heatwave

There are several places to cool off from the extreme heat in Vienna, including a dedicate “cooling centre” in the 21st district (Amanda Previdelli / The Local)
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