Weather still unpredictable – high river levels and flooding in Poland

podtopienia w Polsce

In December 2023. a sharp rise in the water level of many of the country’s rivers has been reported. The flooding in Poland was caused by prolonged rainfall and sudden snowmelt. IMGW-PIB has issued meteorological and hydrological warnings of the highest degree. The most difficult situation was in Silesia, Lower Silesia and Opole provinces, where rivers reached alarm status. Will this situation continue in the coming days?

Threat of flooding at the end of 2023.

Shortly before Christmas, a severe weather collapse with torrential downpours and gusty winds brought cyclone Zoltan. Then a warm atmospheric front caused a sudden thaw and melting of snow. Warming in the last days of December 2023. made the month go down in Poland as warmer than usual. Across the country, IMGW-PIB issued meteorological and hydrological warnings, and some had the highest, 3. degree. They warned of snowmelt and river surges exceeding alert levels.

Flooding in Poland – rising water levels in rivers

High water levels were recorded especially in the Silesian, Lower Silesian and Opole provinces. In Lower Silesia, where alarm levels on rivers were exceeded at as many as 21 water gauges, among others, were issued:

  • hydrological alerts 3. degree for the catchment areas of the Czerna Wielka (Lower Silesia, Lubuskie), Orla (Greater Poland, Lower Silesia), Barycz and Widawa;
  • hydrological alerts 2. degree for the Lower Silesian drainage basins: Beaver, Kaczawa, Nysa Łużycka, Kwisa, Ślęza, Nysa Kłodzka with Ścinawka.

In Wroclaw, the water in the Vidava River rose to a height of 252 cm – a very high threshold for exceeding the alarm condition at the Krzyzanowice water gauge.

These conditions, with rainwater runoff and ongoing rain, could pose a risk. According to the latest announcements of IMGW-PIB warning 3. degree, issued for the regions of Jelenia Gora and the Karkonosze district, is still in effect today.

Forecasts of hydrological hazards 2. and 3rd degree

According to forecasts of IMGW-PIB hydrological warnings of the highest, 3. Degrees on January 4 and 5 remain set for:

  • The West Coast and the internal marine waters of the Republic of Poland – the Southern Baltic;
  • Szczecin Lagoon;
  • Rivers: the Oder from the Warta to Gryfino and to the estuary; the Warta from the Notec to the estuary, the Barycz from the Polska Woda to the estuary to the Oder;
  • catchments: Swina River, Obra River, Orla River (Wielkopolska and Lower Silesia), Barycz River without Orla River and Polish Trench, Odra River estuary basin.

Hydrological warnings 2. IMGW degrees have been issued, among others. for:

  • catchment areas: Ina and Płoni, Wkra, Supraśl, Liwiec, Bzura, Pilica from Sulejów reservoir (Mazowieckie, Łódzkie, Świętokrzyskie), upper Prosna, Huczwa.
  • rivers: the middle and lower Notec, the Oder from the Warta to Gryfino, the Oder from Slubice to the Warta, the Bug (in Mazovia and up to the mouth of the Uherka in Lublin), the Wieprz from Nielisz reservoir to the mouth of the Bystrzyca.

Will flooding occur in the coming days? What do the weather forecasts represent?

The weather situation in December was very dynamic. Meanwhile, cloud cover and precipitation dominate early this year in Poland. In the coming days, synopticians predict only locally heavy rainfall. Water levels in rivers are fortunately stabilizing and may even drop slightly, so the threat of flooding should diminish. For that, it will soon become snowy and frosty. According to IMGW-PIB, the weather for the weekend is:

In the southern part of the country, high cloudiness with periodic clearances will prevail, locally there will be snow and rain with snow. Possible occurrence of glaze. Elsewhere in the country, cloud cover will be low to moderate. Temperatures will range from -6°C in the northeast, about -2°C in the central and western parts of the country, to 2°C in the southeast. Only Podlasie, Masuria and Kashubia will be colder, from -15°C to -11°C. The wind will be weak and moderate, from northern directions.

Monday will bring little change. The cloud cover will be low to moderate, only in the south and in places over the sea – high. Locally there will be snowfall in the south and over the sea, and on the coast there will also be rain with snow. Temperatures will drop significantly, in places as low as -19°C, -15°C in the northeast and Podhale, from -11°C to -7°C in the center and south to -4°C in the west; only by the sea about -1°C. The wind will be weak and moderate, from a northeasterly direction.

If the frosts persist for several days, this will mean that the runoff of water into rivers will slow down, and thus the threat of flooding will diminish in many places. We are still hoping for snow and a slow spring melt – all for the sake of our rivers.

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