Rhine water levels still rising Saturday

17 Jul 2021

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Rhine water levels were still rising Saturday with significant disruptions likely on extensive stretches of the river this weekend, forecast data from Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) showed.

But the water levels are expected to subside from Monday and the Rhine is likely to fully re-open for traffic by the middle of next week, the forecast data showed and sources told Quantum Friday.

Quantum assessed ULSD FOB ARA diesel spot barges at $595.75/mt on Friday, down $4/mt on the day.

Barge traffic on the upper Rhine beyond Speyer in Germany was stopped Thursday.

Further down, near Koblenz, a 50-km stretch of river was closed on Friday.

Significant disruptions are also likely this weekend in the river’s northern stretches.

Water levels are likely to reach 7.5 metres in Dusseldorf, 7 metres in Emmerich and 6.5 metres in Koblenz on Saturday, at or above the very high water threshold (“Marke II”).

At Kaub, a key shipping hub situated near many of Germany’s industries, water height is likely to reach 6 metres by Sunday, before falling rapidly in the following days.

The Marke II threshold of 6.4 metres, which prevents navigation on this stretch of the river, is now unlikely to be reached, the same data showed. Marke II is also unlikely to be reached in either Duisburg or Cologne.

The WSV lowered its forecast for Kaub water levels in recent days with less rainfall expected. No rain is forecast at stations along the river over the next few days, weather data showed.

A total of 16.5 millimetres of rain fell on 14 July, the most in a single day since 28 January, data from Germany's weather service Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) showed.

In addition, an average 13.6 mm fell on 13 July and 4 mm on 15 July.

These are exceptional amounts for the time of year and followed a very rainy June, which saw the highest average volume of rain since June 2016 during a previous flood in Germany.

As a result, soils around the river were very wet even before the latest rainfall.

The heaviest rain was seen in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, in the country’s northwest.

A total of 160 people died as a result with hundreds still missing at the time of writing, one of Germany’s worst environmental catastrophes of the past century.

In addition, some 115,000 people were still without power on Saturday.

Snowmelt from the Alps, which came particularly late this year due to cold weather in the spring, added to the significant volumes of water feeding the river.

An average of 22 centimetres of snow remained at high-altitude stations in the Alps, data from MeteoSwiss showed, up from zero most years.

At the end of June, there was 1 metre of snow left.