Despite some rain, no end to drought on the horizon

Drought Landscape Nature Sunset Climate Change

Ljubljana – Tuesday’s long-awaited rain in Slovenia was not enough to significantly raise water levels and river flows, which have been the lowest in 30 years in some parts of the country. The rain that is forecast for the coming weekend will also not significantly improve the situation, so relief is expected as late as in the autumn.

Environment Agency (ARSO) data shows that water levels are low throughout the country, but especially in the Primorska region, west, and Notranjska, south. The rivers Drava, Sava and Ljubljanica are also affected by the drought.

Some of the rivers in these areas have never had this low levels in July in the last 30 years. The situation is reminiscent of Augusts of the driest years of 2003, 2007 and 2012. This shows that drought hit very early on this year, and could become even more severe in August.

Western and central Slovenia have seen 40-50% less rain than usual, while water levels of the Sava, Soča and Drava have also been significantly affected by the lack of snow last winter.

Flows of small rivers in the north-east and east of the country are meanwhile still within the parameters of ordinary summer months, ARSO told the STA.

The precipitation forecast for Friday evening and night is expected to bring some 10-20 litres of rain per square metre, which meteorologist Veronika Hladnik Zakotnik says is not enough to at least partly eliminate the consequences of the drought.

To make a difference, “around 50 litres per square metre” would be needed, the ARSO meteorologist told the STA on Wednesday.

“Given the current drought, the expected rainfall will be practically negligible, it will be only enough to wet the ground.”

She thus expects that in the absence of a major cyclon, river flows will probably increase only in the autumn.

Also, temperatures will remain around 30 degrees Celsius until the end of the week and are to further rise to 35 degrees in the second half of next week, she said.

The lack of precipitation has a direct impact on various fields and activities, from water supply and electricity production to fishing and tourism along the rivers.

The low water levels are being further exacerbated by extremely high temperatures which warm surface waters resulting in oxygen depletion, which leads to an increasing number of fish kills.