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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
A man walks on the dried out lake bottom of the Zicksee in St. Andrae am Zicksee in Burgenland, Austria. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

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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WEATHER

Forecast: Austria faces sunny weekend but temperatures to drop next week

Despite recent sunny weather, people in Austria will have to brace for wintery temperatures in the coming days.

Forecast: Austria faces sunny weekend but temperatures to drop next week

On Friday, people in Austria woke up to a foggy day that quickly turned into an unexpectedly sunny day with mild temperatures. Still, the country’s weather is about to change, Austria’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said.

Saturday should still have some periods of sunshine, especially in the eastern half of the country – perfect for those who will take part in the Viennese Wine Hiking Day (Wiener Weinwandertag), as temperatures should stay around 15C to 18C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wiener Weinwandertag: Everything you need to know about Vienna’s ‘Wine Hiking Day’

In Vorarlberg and Tyrol, however, it may already start to rain, especially south and along the main ridge of the Alps.

Early temperatures in Austria are expected to be between one and eleven degrees, with lower values in the north and daytime highs of 15C to 21C.

Screenshot from ZAMG

On Sunday, dense clouds will dominate and rain is expected in many places. However, a few sunny spells are quite possible in between, most likely in the north and east of the country.

Mostly weak to moderate winds from south to west. Early temperatures will be between six and twelve degrees and daytime highs between 13 and 18 degrees.

READ ALSO: What’s on: Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

On Monday, sun and partly dense clouds will alternate. In the course of the day, there may be rain showers, especially in the mountains, where the clouds are often thicker.

Early temperatures will be between six and twelve degrees, with daily highs between 13C and 19C.

READ ALSO: Top tips to protect yourself from storms in Austria

Stormy weather from Tuesday

On Tuesday, the unsettled weather will continue. Although there may be sunny spells sometimes, clouds will predominate.

Rain showers are expected in all parts of the country, and it could rain for longer periods in some areas.

Early temperatures are between six and twelve degrees, and daily highs are between eleven and 17 degrees.

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