Devastating rainfall far from done, moving east

Ljubljana, 4 August - Torrential rains, which have caused devastating floods and landslides particularly in northern, western and parts of central Slovenia in the past 12 hours, are far from over, meteorologist Brane Gregorčič has warned. He said Slovenia is currently roughly midway through the rainfall event.

Floods in Kamnik, north of Ljubljana.
Photo: Tatjana Zemljič/STA

According to the Environment Agency meteorologist, the heaviest downpours are now expected to shift to the south-east and then along the Croatian border towards the north-east.

"The weather is taking its course," Gregorčič told the press in Ljubljana. He said the amount of rainfall that fell in the past 12 hours was even larger than expected according to the most likely scenarios, with some areas hit by around 200 millimetres per square metre, the double of a month's worth of rain on average.

The national flood protection and rescue plan has been activated and Prime Minister Robert Golob is cutting short his holiday trip.

Streams and rivers have begun to flood, and further flooding is expected along the Krka, Sava, Drava, and Dravinja rivers. The Mura river is flooding as well, but for the time being within the flood embankments. The discharge of the Sava river at the country's exit on the Croatian border has reached record levels, according to hydrologist Janez Polajnar.

The heaviest floods are expected later today and in particular during the night, as the rainfall will continue. Particularly severe conditions are expected in the southeastern part of Slovenia, especially in the Kočevje region, along the Kolpa River, and in the Bela Krajina region.

The rainfall will moreover move towards the north-east along the Croatian border but also continue more centrally in the Savinja region around Celje. The rain is expected to weaken during the day tomorrow and cease by Sunday morning.

People have had to be evacuated from several parts of the country and according to Civil Protection commander Srečko Šestan, access to affected areas is blocked in many cases. There are also communication problems.

Šestan said the situation is presently worst in the Koroška region in the north and the Upper Savinja Valley south of Celje.

The emergency alarm has already been sounded in Celje and nearby Laško as well, with Šestan fearing "this could turn into a Kostanjevica scenario if all these negative things end up compounding". Kostanjevica is a town in southern Slovenia located on an island on the Krka river.

The army is active too, including with helicopters, with eighteen people having been rescued by helicopter from the Menina camp on the Savinja.

People have also been airlifted to safety from their flooded homes in Škofja Loka, north-west of Ljubljana, and helicopters are rescuing people stranded in the mountains.

The police reported several fatalities, but specific information about the circumstances is not available yet.

© STA, 2023