Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground:
A historic multi-billion dollar flood disaster has killed at least eighteen people in Central Europe after record flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia over the past two weeks.
The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm higher than the record set in 2006.
The flooding was caused by torrential rains that fell on already wet soils. In a 2-day period from May 30 – June 1, portions of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9″), with isolated regions experiencing 250 mm (9.8″). This two-day rain event had a greater than 1-in-100 year recurrence interval, according to the Austrian Meteorological Agency, ZAMG. Prior to the late May rains, Austria had its seventh wettest spring in 150 years, which had resulted in the ground in the region becoming saturated, leading to greater runoff when the rains began.