Between the 14th and 18th of May severe floods and landslides hit the Balkans, claiming 50 lives and causing a level of destruction financially comparable to the1992-1995 Balkan conflict, as Al Jazeera reported.
However, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian, the most affected by the tragedy, are not the only ones who have been facing extreme natural events recently, as ten days earlier Italian town Senigallia suffered the same faith as well as the southern British Somerset region, which last January experienced the wettest month ever.
These are of course minor events compared to what happened in the Balkans and last year’s massive flood in Central Europe, but there’s the terrible (and legitimate) concern that these extreme events are getting more and more frequent.
Explore some of the information on floods occurred since 1990 in the map by selecting one year in the drop-down menu
Is it getting better?
According to data collected by theDartmouth Flood Observatory on last 30 years’ floods, the number of events seem to be shrinking in both Europe and the rest of the World, after peaking respectively on 2002 and 2003; while the element in slight increase is the average annual magnitude of floods.
The information provided by the Observatory is derived by collection of news as well as governmental, instrumental and remote sensing sources.
However, considering the earliest year registered is 1985, the data surely needs to be contextualised on information covering a longer period to see any consistent trend.
No, it is not
A recent study reveals the number of floods occurring across Europe will double by 2050 and the financial loss will multiply as a result. The scientists also observed that these events interest all the European countries as “river flows across Europe are closely correlated, rising and falling in response to large-scale atmospheric patterns that bring rains and dry spells to large regions,” as Dr Hochrainer-Stigler said.
The study carried out by Dr Hochrainer & Co. is only available, unfortunately, by payment, but some of the supplementary information has been released, together with the graph below. It seems to confirm the trend of the Dartmouth Observatory data – apparently they took Austria and Hungary as models.
So yes, the number of annual floods has been decreasing, but it is probably going to get worse in the future.
Romania the most affected in Europe
Despite what happened in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, these have not been the most affected countries by floods over the last 30 years. According to the Dartmouth Flood Observatory’s figures Romania suffered the most among the European countries, Baltics included, as 38 floods hit the country since 1985, one every year in average. A third of them were considered “extreme floods”, the highest rate in Europe. France (33), Italy (33) and Spain (25) follow up.