Flood risk warnings for Danube, parts of Balkans, after central Europe harsh weather

The level of the Danube river at Bulgaria’s city of Vidin is expected to exceed the flood risk boundary on March 18, the Environment and Water Ministry said on the basis on information passed on from Romanian authorities.

Bulgaria is among countries in the Balkans affected by a large cold front that earlier brought serious transport chaos to Hungary, Austria and Slovakia as traffic snarled up under the weight of heavy snowfalls, with conditions worsened by strong icy winds.

Storm winds in Bulgaria caused serious problems in the town of Gabrovo and Tryavna.

Bulgaria’s Environment and Water Ministry said on March 16 that it had sent a risk warning to district governors and operational units in various parts of Bulgaria.

On March 16, Bulgaria’s district governors, Civil Protection units, Reservoirs Directorates and Kozloduy nuclear power plant were asked to accelerate inspections of dykes and preparations for prevention of floods and to make sure the warning system is ready for operation.

The state of emergency in Bulgaria’s storm-hit northern municipality of Dryanovo will remain in force at least until March 18, the mayor of the municipality, Ivan Nikolov, told local news agency Focus.

Fallen trees and bushes are being removed from the roads. The roof of a secondary school was blown off. We may apply for financing from the interdepartmental commission for recovery, Nikolov said.

Another serious problem is the power substation. Three teams of workers managed to restore the power supply to about 80 per cent of the settlements in the municipality, he said.

According to the mayor some public buildings – mainly in the villages of Tsareva Livada and Gostilitsa – had been seriously damaged.

In Bulgaria’s neighbour Macedonia, the mayor of Ohrid, Alexander Petreski, called on the government to undertake emergency measures to release water from Lake Ohrid.

Speaking to Focus, Petreski said that if no emergency measures were undertaken, the 2010 flood situation could happen again.

There was no damage currently, because the municipality had cleaned the channels in time, he said.

“The municipality did what it has to. But if no water is released into the Black Drim river, serious problems may occur in the next days when more snow will melt,” Petreski said.

A warm spell is predicted to set in on March 18 in that part of Macedonia. The snow will melt. Last week there was a lot of water from both rainfall and melting snow, the Ohrid mayor said.

Serbia expects floods caused by the higher levels of the feeders of the Danube and the Sava, local media said.

The highest level of the waters is expected in two or three days, depending on the rate of the snow melting in Austria, Slovenia and Hungary, Serbia’s Interior Ministry said.

Experts are monitoring the water level of the Danube and the Sava so that people are not at risk. For now there is no extraordinarily high water and the rivers have not burst their banks, except for the upper course of the rivers close to Kraljevo.

Meanwhile, Albanian authorities have evacuated hundreds of people from their homes after heavy rain caused floods in the west of the country, local media said.

Albanian interior minister Flamur Noka said that about 8000 acres of farming land were flooded. The recent rainfall is about three times higher than that usual for the season. Hurricane winds cut power supply and caused landslides, forcing the authorities to close several roads.

Electricity companies in Albania said that there was no risk of overflowing reservoirs. They said that power plants in the region, which produce a large amount of electricity for the country, will not stop operating.

On March 16, it was reported that Hungary had measured 14.2 degrees below zero Celsius, the lowest temperature recorded on this day, at a weather station in the north-eastern part of the country. In 1932, March 16 recorded a temperature of minus 13 degrees Celsius at the weather station.

Local media said that the M1 highway between Budapest and Vienna was still blocked and it was not likely to be open for traffic on March 16.

Hungarian authorities declared a state of emergency on March 15. The Hungarian military used tanks to help clear the roads across the country. More than 170 roads were still blocked and about 79 towns were still cut off on March 16. Several thousands of households were without electricity.

(Photo, of the Danube at Vidin: Klearchos Kapoutsis)



The Sofia Globe staff

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