‘Catastrophic’ drought hits Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is facing its worst drought in 500 years, experts said on Wednesday, with its environment minister describing a long stretch of bone-dry weather as “simply catastrophic”.

This spring has seen rivers drop to levels significantly lower than the seasonal averages recorded in recent years also plagued by drought, according to official statistics.

“The episode of drought that the country has experienced since 2015 is the worst of the last 500 years,” Czech scientists and experts affiliated in Intersucho, a specialised data hub focused on drought, said on their Twitter site.

“The situation is quite simply catastrophic,” Environment Minister Richard Brabec told Czech media on Wednesday.

Last year’s drought-affected around 99.5 percent of the Czech Republic, causing crop damage estimated at nine to 11 billion koruna (350-427 million euros, $408-500 million), according to the Agrarian Chamber.

Farmers across Europe, including those in usually wetter northern regions like Sweden and the Baltic states, also suffered in 2019 from record drought, with many forced to slaughter livestock due to severe shortages of fodder.

Brabec blamed the extreme drought in the Czech Republic “on the decrease in the volume of precipitation, the increase in the average temperature as well as greater evaporation and a longer growing season”.

He has called an emergency meeting of regional and local officials from across the country for May 12 to draw up a crisis response strategy aimed at ensuring that supplies of drinking water will not be in jeopardy during what is forecast to be yet another dry summer.

In neighbouring Poland, where authorities say water resources are currently comparable to those in Egypt, drought has triggered panic among farmers and massive wildfires in the country’s Biebrza wetlands, also its largest national park.



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