Elsewhere in Weather News: May 24th, 2014

Balkan Flooding Could be Billion Dollar Disaster

This past week the full effects of the Balkan floods have been coming to head as floodwaters retreat. The Balkans are located in Southeast Europe just to the east of Italy across the Adriatic sea. The flooding event which started on May 14th and lasted up until Saturday May 17th, caused the most severe flooding to Serbia and Bosnia. The flooding was caused by a deep low pressure system which moved from the Adriatic Sea and stalled for a few days over the Balkan Peninsula. The low was not only able to tap into a great amount of moisture but also use the mountainous terrain to its advantage. By forcing air up the mountain, the air then cools, condenses and subsequently falls as precipitation; this is also called orographic lift.

Low spinning just northwest of the Balkan Peninsula bringing heavy rain to the region. (Source: NASA)
Low spinning just northwest of the Balkan Peninsula bringing heavy rain to the region. (Source: NASA)

Several towns from both countries were severely hit from this event including Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, where a whopping 205mm of rain fell and broke the previous record (175mm) from 1897. Across both countries, over 2,100 landslides were reported and the Bosna River also overflowed its banks inundating numerous large cities (Doboj, Maglaj). Unfortunately 55 people died in the event as well as large amounts of livestock. In total over one million people in the region have been affected. The magnitude of the damage to the infrastructure is significant – 3,000km of roads have been damaged or washed out as well as about a third of all railroad lines. This is likely to be counted as a billion dollar disaster.

Search and rescue efforts have eased in the region this past week and the next phase will be the cleanup. Weather looks to be variable in the coming days as popup showers and thundershowers are possible in the afternoon hours.