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How the New Danube protects Vienna from catastrophic floods

Built in the 1970s, the value of the New Danube has been driven home this week, where it has helped Vienna avert a flooding catastrophe.

How the New Danube protects Vienna from catastrophic floods
The Donau Canal (right) seen aside from the Donau. Photo By Bwag - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at,

While rivers burst their banks across the country and several areas were hard hit, Vienna managed to escape the worst. 

On Sunday and Monday, the Danube (Donau) river flowed over its banks, but instead of flooding Vienna’s historic streets, it flowed into the New Danube – the channel built in the 1970s to protect the city of Vienna. 

“The “New Danube” is flooded so that the Danube does not overflow in Vienna.  The New Danube and the Danube Island were built in the 1970s for this purpose.”

While a number of basements were flooded and nightclub U4 was inundated and needed to be shut down, the majority of the city avoided a major catastrophe. 

What is the New Danube?

The New Danube is a side channel built into the Danube river. The design of the channel was made in 1969, with construction taking place from 1972 to 1988. 

The Donauinsel (Danube Island) is 21 kilometres long and now sits in the middle of the two waterways and was constructed from rocks and dirt dredged out of the river. 

The International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology reports that few areas of the city were protected from large floods. 

“Vienna was over many centuries subject to severe flooding. Only the very oldest parts of town, where the roman fort was once established were flood free.”

Catastrophic flooding events took place in 1897 and 1899, which led to smaller scale changes to try and reduce damage. 

The idea for the channel gained momentum after 1954, when another catastrophic flood hit Vienna and authorities realised that a more drastic change was needed to properly protect the city from flooding. 

How does it work? 

At the entrance to the New Danube channel, there is an openable weir which stops water from the Danube from entering. 

In normal times, the weir seals off the channel which makes it perfect for swimming and other water activities, while facilities were built on the land to allow for volleyball, skating, jogging and other activities. 

Up to 300,000 people can use the area each day. 

The entrance weir to the Donau Canal. Photo By User:My Friend – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. 

The weir is so popular some people use it to commute to work, giving it the nickname “the autobahn for swimmers”. 

When the water level rises in the main river, the gates are released to reduce pressure on the main part of the river and allow water into the channel. 

As has happened in 2021 with the high water levels, this will usually mean swimming, boating and other water activities are banned in the channel. 

There are two other weirs further down in the channel which help to regulate water level during non-flood periods. 

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35C: Austria to be hit by first heatwave of 2022 over the weekend

Temperatures will rise above 30C in Austria on Saturday and Sunday, with the west of the country expected to see the mercury reach 35C.

35C: Austria to be hit by first heatwave of 2022 over the weekend

Austria will experience its first heatwave of 2022 in the next couple of days, with temperatures set to rise above 35C in the west of the country, according to the country’s meteorological agency ZAMG.

On Friday, temperatures are expected to stay above 25C for most of the day.

In the west, Vorarblerg will already feel the heat at 29C, according to the national weather agency.

Over the course of Friday afternoon, parts of Austria can expect rain and thunderstorms, but otherwise, it will be a sunny Friday across the country.

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Saturday should be sunny and dry in Austria, with temperatures rising to 34C in Tyrol.

The capital Vienna will have a maximum temperature of 29C.

The heatwave will arrive in full blast on Sunday, when parts of the country, especially Salzburg, will experience scorching temperatures of 36C.

In Vienna, people can expect 32C heat during the day. Tyrol, Salzburg, and Upper Austria have maximum temperatures of 35C forecast.

It will also be a sunny and dry Sunday, according to ZAMG.

People in Austria can expect some respite from the heat on Monday as most of the country will experience summer thunderstorms on Monday – even though maximum temperatures will continue to be above 31C.

ZAMG’s weather warning tool

Austria’s meteorologic agency has extreme heat weather warnings in place for at least the next four days.

Here’s a quick summary of the weather over the next few days:

Friday: partly cloudy in the east, rainy in Lower Austria and Styria, and temperatures will reach 29C in the west.

Saturday: mainly clear in most of the country with maximum temperatures from 28C (Western and Eastern Styria) to 34C (Tyrol). Up to 29C in Vienna.

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Sunday: mainly clear in most of the country with minimum temperatures of 12C (in Ennstal and Ausseerland) and maximum temperatures reaching 36C in Salzburg. Vienna will have a maximum of 32C.

Monday: thunderstorms throughout most of the country, except in the south. Minimum temperatures of 15C (in Osttirol) and maximums of 33C (in Burgenland).

Tuesday: partly cloudy in most of the country, but thunderstorms are expected in Salzburg and Tyrol. Maximum temperatures to reach 32C in Vorarlberg and Tyrol.