July 25, 2021

European flooding is the latest sign of a global warming crisis

BERLIN – A few days before water was torn down via West Germany, a European Meteorological Agency issued a “severe” flood warning, after detailed models showed storms and a German meteorologist said Friday that 500 or more were threatening to send rivers. 1,000 years.

On Friday those predictions proved to be catastrophically accurate, with more than 100 dead and 1,300 unaccounted for as helicopter rescue crews submerged Maroon residents from villages within minutes, raising questions about the flaws in Germany’s comprehensive flood warning system.

Many areas, victims and authorities are not ready when cars, houses and bridges and everything in their lanes become swept away streams.

“It simply came to our notice then. You tried to do something, it’s already too late, ”Schultz, a resident of Germany, told ART Public Television, after the Ahr River swelled its banks, cutting off elegant wooden structures and sending vehicles like bath toys.

One of the best signs of climate change as a result of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is heavy rainfall, as in Germany. Studies have found that they now occur more frequently for one simple reason: warmer climates can hold more moisture, produce more, and more powerful rainfall.

But more severe weather events around the world – wildfires in the western US, or even more severe hurricanes In the Caribbean – Meteorologists and German officials say the floodwaters, which this week cut through the path of widespread destruction through Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands, are almost unheard of.

Still, they are not unexpected.

“There should not have been so many deaths from this event,” said Dr Linda Spide, a hydrology researcher at the University of Reading in the UK, who is studying how the floods occur. He blamed the poor communication on the high risk of flooding for contributing to the significant loss of life.

A comment was made that German politicians do not seem to be politicizing a disaster for now, and a spokeswoman for President Angela Merkel said she plans to visit the affected Rhineland-Palatinate state on her return. Speech in Washington.

But the natural disaster had all the hallmarks of an event that changed political fortunes in German election times like this in the past.

Conservative leader of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Lashed, who is vying for victory after Ms Merkel’s national elections on September 26, told a news conference on Friday that “our state is facing a historic flood disaster.”

Facing his strong challenge from the eco-friendly Green Party, Mr. Lashset said, “We need to make the state more climate-friendly. We need to make Germany’s climate more neutral.”

But his state has been hit hard, and if the floodwaters recede, he and Ms Merkel will face questions as to why their political strongholds were not better prepared.

German authorities on Friday released their warning system, which includes a network of real-time sensors that measure the size of the river. The problem is, they’ve seen a torrential downpour – falling so fast that it’s not even a threat to small streams and rivers.

German Meteorological Agency spokeswoman Uwe Kirsch said it would be a lesser idea to describe the events of recent days as 100-year-old floods, which have been called a flood and have not been seen in the millennium.

“With these little rivers, they have never experienced anything like that,” Mr Kirshe said. “No one can produce because no one expects something like this.”

German meteorologist Felix Deutsch on Tuesday Went to YouTube Warning that some parts of southwestern Germany may receive previously unimaginable amounts of rain. He warned that an area of ​​one square meter could pour over 70 liters or 18 gallons of water within a few hours.

The Meteorological Service, a government agency, issued its most severe storm warning, coded for the Purple, Eiffel and Mosle areas. This is one of several warnings sent to meteorological service state officials and local officials, fire departments and police, which were released on Twitter and other media earlier this week.

But the water rose so quickly that, beyond the previously recorded record level, the response plans of some communities were completely inadequate, while others were completely unsafe.

A spokesman for the office, which is responsible for monitoring the flood and alerting local authorities in the Rhineland-Palatinate, said all warnings had been received from the weather service and had been sent to local communities as planned.

But what happened after that is important, not entirely clear.

Michael Stoffels, 32, of the village of Mash, at the confluence of the Ahr and Trierbach rivers, said he had not received any warning from the government, but called a neighbor on Wednesday to warn of rapidly rising water.

He rushed home from a nearby administrative retail store to save what he could. He was lucky, as he had storage at ground level and his living area was above it, so the 12 feet of water his house took in did not cause significant damage.

But the village of 220 people was flooded by flash, and one resident, Maria Vasquez, said they did their job within two hours. Friday evening, it was without electricity, running water or cell phone protection.

The riverbanks were scenes of disaster, with crushed cars and large wooden stumps, many streets covered with mud and debris. Trucks of broken furniture, tree branches and pieces of stone were slowly driven over fallen electrical connections.

Ms. Vasquez, who works at a nearby auto repair shop, said: “A lot of good cars have crashed or crashed. “I work with cars, so it’s sad, but I hope all people are okay.”

On the Belgian border, 20 people have been confirmed dead and 20 are missing, the country’s Prime Minister Alexander de Cruy said on Friday, saying the floods were “the most devastating our country has ever seen”.

Water rose in lakes in Switzerland and through waterways in the Netherlands, leaving hundreds of homes without electricity and submerging the city center of Walkenberg in the Netherlands, although no country has suffered casualties or devastation to German cities.

Maydard Roth, the mayor of Cordell in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, said he would protect the warning systems and activate his city’s emergency flood response as soon as he was warned that the waters of the Kyle River were approaching dangerous levels. But the water rose so fast that it could not be stopped by regular activities.

“Already at 3:30 pm on Wednesday the Courtal Fire Brigade began setting up security operations,” Mr. Roth told Bildt, a German newspaper. “By 6pm everything was already under water. No one could have predicted it. ”

Northern Rhine-Westphalia Environment Minister Ursula Heinen-ezer said in an online presentation on Friday that floodwaters had reached “unprecedented levels”.

The German flood warning system leaves it up to local authorities to decide what action to take, based on the principle that they have the best information about the local landscape and what is in the course of the river overflowing with people or property.

In some cases warnings seem to have been issued in a timely manner. In the town of Wuppertal, located in a valley divided by the Wupper River, a crisis group including police, fire department and city officials used social media to urge people to stay home.

Early Thursday morning, just after midnight, they sounded a warning siren, similar to the one used during World War II, to warn residents to go to higher ground or to leave when the water rose.

Wuppertal suffered property damage such as flooding in the orchestra pit of the local opera house, but no casualties were reported, city spokeswoman Martina Eckerman said.

But elsewhere the warnings came too late.

In the Ahrweiler district of neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate, regional authorities issued the first warning to residents living along the river, which reached a record height of 3 meters or nearly 10 feet. Three hours later, a state of emergency was declared as water was pushed beyond the previous flood record.

At the time, many fled to the upper levels of their homes, but those unable to move fast died, meaning 12 disabled residents at a care home in Cincinnati were not alerted in a timely manner to get help from their ground. Upstairs rooms before the water rises.

“The warnings came,” said the German Meteorological Agency. Kirshe said. “But the question is, why didn’t the evictions happen soon? That’s something we need to think about.”

Reported by Melissa Eddie from Berlin, Jack Ewing from Frankfurt, Megan Spacia from London and Steven Erlanger from Mash, Germany.