Red alert issued for Koroška due to danger of floods and landslides

Ljubljana, 29 August - The Environment Agency issued a red alert for Koroška on Tuesday because of the danger of flooding and landslides in the region that was strongly affected by the early August floods. The rain is expected to persist by Wednesday morning, soaking the ground and increasing the danger. Municipalities will use alarms to alert the public of the danger.

The largest quantity of rain will fall over eastern Slovenia, mostly in the Zasavje area, and in the Savinjska and Podravska regions, Koroška and a large part of Štajerska, meteorologist Brane Gregorčič told the press.

In these areas 50-80 litres of rain is expected per square metre, up to 100 litres in some areas. "I would like to point out that today's rainfall will be more widespread, covering larger areas, with no extreme downpours expected, so the impact on watercourses will be a bit slower, but the soil will get increasingly damp," Gregorčič said.

In the Koroška and Savinjska regions, 40-50 litres of rain per square metre fell on Monday, and the same or slightly higher amount is expected today. "The second wave of rainfall will fall on the already soaked ground, and that is what we are most concerned about right now in these vulnerable areas," said hydrologist Janez Polajnar. In addition, streams can turn torrential and flooding will be possible, so caution is particularly needed in these areas, he said.

The Drava River is currently spilling over downstream, at the Markovci area. Due to a large quantity of water coming from Austria, the flow of the Drava was around 1,100 cubic metres per second during the night and this is moving through Slovenia now. Until it reaches the border with Croatia, flooding is expected at the usual spill zones, mostly on farm land.

The Mura River is also expected to swell but it seems it will stay within levees. All minor torrential streams in the Zasavje region are expected to spill over.

There is an increased risk of landslides being triggered in areas that had not been affected so far, said Miloš Bavec, director of Slovenia's Geological Survey. He also warned that the increased risk of landslides will continue for a few more days after the rain stops.

In the Gorenjska region, the rain has been causing problems mostly in the areas that had already been affected by flooding. Basements and some buildings were flooded. The landslide over Koroška Bela, made up of more than a million cubic metres of material, is stable for now and additional protection was placed there. The locals are also familiar with evacuation procedures.

According to commander of the Gorenjska regional civil protection centre Klemen Šmid, evacuations were not required but some residents of the municipalities of Gorenja Vas - Poljane and Škofja Loka temporarily left their homes for fear of landslides.

Still, the night went better than expected with some incidents reported in Ljubljana, Kranj and Koper, and in Slovenj Gradec, Celje, Nova Gorica and Postojna. Firefighters mostly dealt with flooded basements, removed fallen trees and helped drivers whose vehicles got stuck in flooded underpasses in the capital.

In Črna na Koroškem in the Koroška region some residents of Spodnje Javorje left their homes out of precaution last night but according to Mayor Romana Lesjak the weather situation calmed down during the night and only some basements were flooded.

In the Topla Valley a road that was damaged at the beginning of August was again swept away, said Alan Matijevič, regional civil protection commander. Because of landslide danger roads between Dravograd and Ravne na Koroškem, and Libeliče are closed.

According to Radio Slovenia, a family from the Prevalje municipality and residents of the Lom pri Mežici area also left their homes last night as they were at risk of being hit by a landslide.

Yesterday's storms luckily caused virtually no damage in the Upper and Lower Savinja Valleys. Firefighters were called to six or seven locations where basements were flooded.

All water management services are still on the ground and work on watercourses has not been interrupted. Machinery was only moved to a safer place when the water went up to avoid damage, said Neža Kodre, head of the Water Agency, adding that work as well as stand-by duties would continue.

Occasional rain is expected across Slovenia today, with the possibility of thunderstorms. Rivers will continue to rise, especially in northern and eastern Slovenia, and spills are possible in exposed areas. An orange alert remains in place for most of the country due to the possibility of heavy precipitation.

The situation is expected to stabilise on Wednesday and partly clear weather is expected until the end of the week.

© STA, 2023