Severe flooding of Rhine river likely to hit barge flow by end of week

13 Jul 2021

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Parts of the Rhine, Europe’s most important river for transporting energy products and commodities, are likely to reach severe flood status by the end of the week, helped by significant rainfall over Western Europe and in a very unusual development for the time of year.

Temporary navigation restrictions are likely to be triggered on a stretch of the river from Kaub to Cologne, known as the Middle Rhine, according to forecast data from Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

Further north, in Dusseldorf and Duisburg, water levels are not currently expected to reach the severe flood threshold.

In Kaub, a key bottleneck situated near many of Germany’s industries, water levels are likely to reach 6.5 metres by Sunday 18 July, more than three times as much as normal levels.

The high water threshold for Kaub is set at 4.6 metres, while the severe flood threshold is 6.4 metres.

It has rained an average of 3.5 millimetres per day so far in July, the highest total for the period since 2014, data from Germany's weather service DWD showed.

This followed a very rainy June, which saw the highest volume of rain since June 2016 during severe floods in Germany. As a result, soils around the river are currently very wet for the time of year.

In addition, snowmelt from the Alps, which is particularly late this year due to cold weather in the spring, has added to the significant volumes of water feeding the river.

An average of 34 centimetres of snow remained at high-altitude stations in the Alps, data from MeteoSwiss showed, up from zero most years.