After flood catastrophe: Germany experiences wettest summer in 10 years

Following on from three years of drought, Germany experienced an unusually wet summer in 2021 according to a preliminary review of the season published by the German Weather Service (DWD) on Monday.

After flood catastrophe: Germany experiences wettest summer in 10 years
Heavy rainfall causes a pipe to burst near Berlin's Friedrichstraße on July 25th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

In July alone, the DWD reported that Germany had seen 40 percent more rainfall than the 1961-1990 average, and 25 percent more than the 1991-2020 average for the same month.

“In 2021, Germany experienced the rainiest summer in ten years,” the DWD report concluded.

“A large part of this was due to the extreme rainfall in mid-July in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. This caused devastating floods that led to one of the most consequential natural disasters since the storm surge of 1962.”

READ ALSO: Climate change: Germany says time is ‘running out’ to save planet

The devastating floods claimed the lives of more than 180 people and caused billions of euros of damage to housing, businesses and infrastructure.

“On July 14th, the rain between the Cologne Bay and the Eifel region was so intense that it went down in the meteorological history books as the ‘rain of the century’,” DWD said.

More than 100 litres per square metre fell within 24 hours during the storm. 

The Wipperfürth-Gardeweg DWD station near Wuppertal also broke the scales when it reported the highest amount of precipitation on record in Germany, with 162.4 litres per square metre falling in the region.

Meanwhile, floods in the Bavarian Alps in the same month left the world-famous Königsee bobsleigh and toboggan track in ruins and left at least three houses uninhabitable. 

In a recent study, climatologists found that extreme floods had become up to nine times more likely due to climate change.

The current temperature of the earth – which is 1.2C higher than in pre-industrial times – has also made such severe weather events more intense, researchers found.


Normal amounts of sunshine?

In terms of temperature and sunshine duration, on the other hand, the summer of 2021 has been more or less within the normal range – even if August has arrived at a rather cool end.

The country experienced most of its summer sunshine in June, which according to the preliminary DWD report, was the third warmest since the beginning of records in 1881.

At the end of June, a fierce heatwave saw temperatures rise in part above the 35-degree mark, while many parts of Germany also experienced ‘tropical’ nights with temperatures above 20. 

But even in the sunniest month, meteorologists noted unusually heavy rain, with regular local floods and thunderstorms occurring in the earliest weeks of summer.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After days of summery weather, temperatures in Germany are set to peak at around 30C this week before a cooler spell over the weekend.

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After a long spell of sunny weather, most parts of Germany could see summer arrive early this week with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – but the hot weather may not last long, according to meteorologists.

Heat and sunshine should last through the middle of the week but suddenly give way to cooler temperatures over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) predicts.

On Tuesday, most regions see temperatures in the mid to high 20s and a continuation of the dry weather of the past week. In the northeast, including Berlin, the mercury could reach 28C, and temperatures are likely to be between 22C and 28C across western and central areas.

Those in higher altitude regions of the south and those along the north coast should be the only people needing their rain jackets as this part of the country could see scattered showers and clouds, according to DWD.

Wednesday is the day to plan a lake trip as this is likely to be the hottest day of the week. 

Most parts of the country will stay sunny and dry throughout the day and people can expect summery temperatures of between 24C and 30C.

For those on the north coast, it’s likely to be a little chillier, with temperatures of around 15C and partly overcast skies.

Thursday and Friday are likely to bring with them cooler temperatures, with the hot spell giving way to scattered showers and clouds in many regions over the weekend.

On Saturday, southern regions will see highs up of up to 23C while the northern regions will slip down to 18C during the day.

But anyone planning to be out and about on Saturday evening in the south should bring a warm jacket as the mercury could drop as low as 4C. 

Sunny weather Standbad Lübars

A woman enjoys the warm weather at Standbad Lübars in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

Northern regions ‘too dry’ 

Though most people have been thrilled to see a warm burst of sunshine in the middle of spring, climate experts have been voicing concern about the uneven rainfall across the country.

In an analysis published on the DWD website, the meteorologists claimed that the northern and eastern parts of Germany have been “clearly too dry” in the past weeks.

“A first glance at the current map already reveals that the regional differences of April have continued in May,” they wrote. “In almost all regions of the northern half and in some parts of the centre, hardly more than 10 and in many places not even 5 litres of rain per square-metre fell in the first days of May.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Though experts had predicted low rainfall, the first 10 days of May have been even drier than predicted.

The lack of rainfall has caused groundwater to dry up significantly, sparking fears of forest fires and drought over summer.

Though more rainfall could come at the end of May, the Weather Channel’s Jan Schenk believes the probability of an overly dry summer is now “very high”.

Schenk believes that predictions for rainfall could have overestimated the amount of precipitation by up to 50 litres per square metre in some areas. This is a reason for households to start saving water now, he told HNA