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I mentioned in a previous post that when the Czech Republic was going through its flooding in the last couple of weeks, I’d been in touch with my Dad, who I consider to be one of the premier experts on floodfighting in the world – and not just because he’s my Dad.

He’s currently in California’s Central Valley, where rivers are threatening to overflow their banks, with his invention, the Rapid Deployment Flood Wall. It’s been very cool to see local coverage of his work as well by local television stations. Here are two of the stories.

Crews Work to Neutralize Boils on San Joaquin River Levee

SF Man’s Invention Makes Levee Repair Faster and Easier (navigate to the ‘Top Stories’ menu on the right hand side)

I’m really proud of him.

ÄŒTK is reporting that the flood situation could worsen on Wednesday and Thursday due to predicted warming in mountain areas.

This would worsen the flood situation, Interior Minister FrantiÅ¡ek Bublan said after today’s meeting of the Central Crisis Group.
While today and Tuesday the forecast is for cloud cover and snow showers in the mountains, this should turn to rain by Wednesday, which would influence thaws in the Beskydy and Jeseniky mountains, according to Ivan Obrusník, the director of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

The Institute will provide more accurate information on Tuesday. According to findings so far, temperatures in Moravia should be above zero degrees on Wednesday, while in Bohemia temperatures would be around freezing. Possible further rains accompanied by warming could raise the levels of both the Vltava and Labe rivers, which would complicate an already tense situation in Ústí nad Labe and could again affect Prague.
In the event the water rises, a mild threat for Prague could occur that would mean stopping the metro, for example,” the interior minister said today.
Levels of Czech and Moravian rivers except for the lower Labe and Dyje are now falling or stagnating. High water of the Labe in Ústí nad Labem should occur tonight around midnight. Drainage of flooded areas will be slow.
Up-to-date information can be found at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute’s web page at
Three border crossings, at  HÅ™ensko, Hevlína a Lanžhota are flooded. Several police buildings are underwater as well, with a total of 10 affected countrywide. Police President Vladislav Husák, at a press conference after the Crisis Group’s meeting confirmed that police are guarding evacuated persons’ property. There has been only one case of illegal activity related to the flood, an attempt to dismantle an anti-flood barrier in Prague.  The perpetrator was arrested.

The Labe in Ústí nad Labem is at 870 cm and still rising slowly. It is expected to reach high water on Monday some time, but much will depend on the weather in Bohemia; showers are forecast for the next few days.

At Mělník (about 30km outside Prague if I recall correctly), the Labe is rising slowly, and is expected to hit high water in the next few hours. If its level rises by another 10 cm to 740cm, evacuations may have to take place. (8:40)
The situation at the Spolana chemical plant is unchanged.

A state of emergency has been proclaimed in seven regions: Southern Bohemia, Central Bohemia, Ústí, Pardubice, Southern Moravia, Olomouc and Zlín.

The area around Novosedlý, near Břeclav in southern Moravia, is flooding due to a levee break in Austria.

Elsewhere, however, many rivers’ levels continue to decline. Could it be that the danger has passed? That is, except for the big drainages – the Labe and the Danube.

Part of Olomouc was flooded Saturday night when a levee broke in Horka nad Moravou. The levee has been partially repaired, but water is still flowing.

There are about 820 residents of the flooded area, but most refused evacuation orders.

The Chomoutov and Černovír districts were the most affected, with water flowing in the streets.

In Prague, water managers have been able to keep the Vltava just under 1,500 cubic meters per second, AktualnÄ›.cz reported. 1500 m3/s is the border for a Stage 3 flood alert. (9:58)

River levels in mountain areas should decline in coming days. Levels on other rivers should fall or remain without changes. Moderate declines on the Labe and middle and lower Morava will continue. The Lužnice will remain at the same level, and may possibly rise during nights on the lower stretches, the Environment Ministry reported (23:56).

Last night I drove across the Vltava downtown, and it looked like the Vltava had a long way to go (at least a couple of meters) before it would reach the bottom of the  temporary aluminum flood walls.

In the comments, reader Thayer asks:

Please if possible in such short time to keep apprised- before sunrise Friday 30 March- how goes waters and flood stages for city of Prague? Leaving Salzburg tomorrow – should I get waders? Is city moving to higher ground?

Sorry to respond to this late. Prague is expected to have its culmination (high water) either today or tomorrow. Aside from localized flooding in low-lying suburban areas such as Zbraslav and Podbaba, we haven’t seen any damage to Prague. The city’s new aluminum flood walls are in place and it isn’t even clear if they’ll be needed.

As long as all the dams upstream hold, and as long as there are no major miscalculations on the part of Povodi Vltavy, the company charged with operating the dams and waterways on the Vltava and its tributaries, Prague should be OK.

In Moravia, Povodi Morava’s (the company responsible for management of the Morava Basin) director was fired today for failing to coordinate between water officials, local authorities and emergency teams, especially in the hard-hit Southern Moravian town of Znojmo, where some officials believe Povodi Morava’s failure to drain the Vranova dam in time to allow its reservoir to fill with floodwater compounded the city’s current situation.

Confusion, or ‘the fog of war’ in emergencies is common, as was the case in FEMA’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and it certainly seems to have made a bad situation along the Dyje worse. For example, Znojmo officials complained that they didn’t have timely and accurate information from their Austrian counterparts upstream on the Dyje. And, Znojmo officials charge, Povodi Morava representatives didn’t even attend the city’s flood team meetings.

To return to Thayer’s question on how all this affects Prague, well there are a couple of ways. There are a number of dams on the Vltava above Prague. The largest of these are Orlík and Slapy. Povodi Vltavy has said their strategy would be to use these dams to limit the impact on Prague; they have probably been letting out water from these dams for some time in anticipation of winter runoff.

Povodi Vltavy spokesman Karel Břežina said that the situation at Orlik was promising, and that if the levels of both the Sazava and Berounka continue to decline, they will not have to let more water out (which would cause flooding in Prague). He said that much will depend on the weather over the next couple of days. (9:12 today).

But the question will be whether the combination of warm weather, large flows and rain on upstream snowpack will overwhelm Povodi Vltavy’s strategy. So far, according to Povodi Vltavy’s flow map, many sites are reporting declining levels (hover your mouse over the green, yellow and red dots to see the water level trends), which is good news.

Povodi Vltavy’s director for the lower Vltava region, which includes Prague, said the Vltava in Prague is unlikely to reach 1,530 cubic meters per second, which would put it at Stage 3 (11:21 today).

On the bus to work this morning I looked out at the Vltava, and while it looked high and menacing, it still was within its banks. We’ll see how that continues, but for now it looks better for Prague.

This post refers extensively to the ongoing coverage at AktualnÄ›.cz. The time in parentheses refers to the time of the AktualnÄ›.cz post.

The news today is mixed on the flood front; while river levels in southern Bohemia (with the exception of the Lužnice river) have stabilized and even declined in some areas, it has gotten worse in southern Moravia, where Znojmo and areas along the Dyje and Morava rivers are getting hard-hit. This is a combination of the 1997 and 2002 floods in one event, this analysis says.
10,000 Znojmo residents have had to be evacuated overnight as the Vránov dam and reservoir are now full and water is coming over its emergency chute. Some reports from upstream on the Dyje in Austria show that the river level is stabilizing or even falling in some places (14:10). Znojmo is still waiting for culmination, which should come sometime this afternoon. 78 locations in the country now face flooding.
Downstream from Prague, Ústí nad Labem’s transportation has been snarled by the floodwaters, with the main road to Prague closed (12:31). The Labe is supposed to culminate Friday evening at around 8.5 meters. Its normal level is around two meters (13:56).

Somewhat better news comes from some of the ‘high-dollar sites’ (my Dad’s term). The central wastewater treatment facility in Prague reports that it is prepared for a flood with room to spare (13:15). Upstream, several treatment facilities have had to be shut down, but hygienists say this should not affect water quality.

Chemical facilities such as Spolana say they’re prepared for floodwaters, with Spolana completely shutting down its facility in Neratovice. Spolchemie is preparing to shut down due to electricity cuts. Setuza in Ústí nad Labem says they’re still in operation, including their wastewater treatment plant, but are prepared to shut down if necessary. (13:13)
This map from the Czech Agriculture Ministry shows quite a few red dots, signifying Stage 3, the highest state of flood alert.

This post relies on the constantly-updated flood news page at ActualnÄ›.cz. They have time stamps for each post, which is what you see in parentheses here.

Some relatively good news this evening regarding the situation in Prague: The flood crisis staff has decided to stay at Stage 2 overnight after reviewing the weather forecast. Flood defenses along Smetanovo nábÅ™eži won’t be put into place, and the Vltava is flowing at 1320 cubic meters per second at last count. (19:00)

Animals at the lower part of the zoo won’t be evacuated tonight either, because water managers on the Vltava will be able to keep its level below Stage 3. (18:40) The water managers’ goal is to allow as much water as possible from Southern Bohemia to pass through Prague without threatening it. The level at Velká Chuchle is expected to pass 1,500 meters per second – which would put the Vltava in Prague at Stage 3 – sometime tonight. (18:25)
A Spolana spokesman said that the company is losing CZK 3.5 million for every lost production day. (19:29)

Elsewhere, however, rivers are still rising, and along the Dyje in southern Moravia, they’re saying this is a 200-year event, and as bad as the 2002 floods. Znojmo is now at Stage 3, with its flood crisis staff meeting now.

AktualnÄ›.cz in one of its brief reports (the 16:11 item) says the Vltava is at a flow of 1,320 cubic meters per second, and people in charge say things will get critical when it gets above 1,500 cubic meters per second. Considering that there was a previous report that said the Vltava would hit culmination only tomorrow, we are likely to have a long night.

The City of Prague website has useful information (in Czech) and photos up about the flood. Here’s one of the metal flood barriers erected in front of the Charles Bridge:

This is one that I’ve been waiting for: iDNES is reporting that Spolana has stopped production at its Neratovice facility.

I’m pretty sure the Spolana facility is one of the biggest chemical plants in Central Europe, and in the 2002 floods it released tens of tons of chemicals into the Labe. Dioxin was among the chemicals Greenpeace later detected near the plant.
Why it’s taken them this long to stop production is still unknown to me. But hey, they’ve got 9,500 sandbags…