Historic deluge in Austrian town of Graz causes flooding and damage to homes

A rain storm that swept over the city of Graz in the Steiermark region of Austria on Friday evening smashed a rainfall record from 1938, flooded streets and cellars, and uprooted several trees.

Historic deluge in Austrian town of Graz causes flooding and damage to homes
Graz from above. credit: Wikipedia Commons/Kermoareb

One weather station in the city recorded rainfall of 110 litres per square metre in a 24-hour period, overtaking a record that had stood since the year 1938, when 105 litres fell in a 24-hour period.

City authorities appealed to residents not to leave their houses during the storm as rainwater swamped some streets and flooded into cellars.

Large balls of hail also fell, while in at least two locations in the city police had to block off streets due to uprooted trees posing a danger to drivers and pedestrians.

The fire services responded to some 60 call outs during the night. In the Judendorf district, around 30 cars were caught in a flooded tunnel with some drivers needing assistance in order to leave, according to public broadcaster ORF.

The state of Voralberg was also hit by hefty rainfall as was the district of Neunkirchen in Lower Austria, where the deluge caused damage to roofs and flooded cellars.

READ MORE: Thunderstorm warning for Friday evening and weekend in Austria

The summer of 2021 has been unusually stormy and has already set an all-time record for lighting across Austria. 

There has been more than one million lightning bolts recorded across Austria by the end of July, which is above the average for each year – meaning Austria is on course for the most bolts ever in a single summer. 

Upper Austria has received the highest number of bolts, with 406,000 in that state alone. 

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Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The climate crisis is causing serious problems for Italy's biggest cities and extreme weather events are going to become more frequent, according to a new report.

Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves
A file photo from November 12th, 2019 shows flooding during an exceptionally high 'acqua alta' in Venice.Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Anyone who was in Italy throughout this year’s long, hot summer may suspect that heatwaves are becoming a more frequent occurrence.

And residents of the lagoon city of Venice will no doubt be able to attest to the devastating impact of serious floods, as well as to the fact that such events appear to be becoming increasingly frequent.

In fact, a new study by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) has confirmed that the incidence rate of both heatwaves and floods in Italy has increased significantly – and is only expected to keep rising.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

The report stated that average temperatures have risen overall in the last 30 years and continue to rise in all cities.

“Risks associated with climate change affect all Italian regions and their economic sectors,” the study’s authors stated. “Despite contrasts, with different areas being affected in different ways, there are no regions that can be considered immune from climate risks.”

The report found that the southern city of Naples had experienced the biggest increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves.

Heatwaves fuelled the most destructive fire season to date in Italy this summer Photo: Nicolas TUCAT/AFP

The southern city has in recent years reported an average of 50 more intensely hot days per year than it did at the beginning of the century.

The same figure for Milan was +30 days, Turin +29 and Rome +28. 

Although extreme weather events have always existed and Italy is no stranger to intense heat, numerous studies have found that the climate crisis is making heatwaves more frequent and more dangerous.

Meanwhile, in Venice, over the last 150 years the relative water level of the city has risen by more than 30 centimeters, and the critical threshold has been exceeded 40 times in the last 10 years, the CMCC found..

The report also warned that the city of Bologna could expect to see an increase in the intensity and frequency of flooding in the future.

READ ALSO: Floods in Italy: What to do when there’s a weather warning

It added that “all scenarios” showed an increased risk of heatwaves and urban flooding in the coming years.

In 2019, Rome was found to be the city in Europe most at risk of flooding, according to water monitoring authorities.

“There are parts of Rome that can’t withstand a heavy downpour,” said the Central Apennines District Basin Authority.

Rome’s soft soil and famous hills make it naturally vulnerable to erosion and mudslides, while the authority said poorly maintained sewers, waste dumping and vegetation blocking the course of the Tiber and Aniene rivers were contributing to the flood risk.

Previous studies have also found that Rome suffered the highest number of extreme weather events overall in recent years.