DriDanube - Heat and drought in the summer 2019 in the Danube region


After a very cold and rainy May, a period of unusually hot weather affected southwestern to central Europe. New all-time high-temperature records were set in Czechia, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany - making it the hottest June on record in Europe. The heat wave was caused by high pressure and winds from the Sahara Desert affecting large parts of the continent. Especially the first half of June was considerably warmer than usual as air temperatures exceeded 30 °C even across the region’s Alpine and northernmost part. Anomalies were the highest over Pannonian Basin in mid-June when air temperatures stretched as high as 6–7 °C above the usual values. As a consequence of high temperatures accompanied by below-average precipitation (mostly 30-50% below the LTA), large negative anomalies of the climatic water balance were estimated for Central and Eastern Europe. This adversely provoked the greatest impact of heat and drought on annual crops in Germany, Austria, Czechia and Slovakia. After weathering record-breaking temperatures, Europe was gripped by a drought that was withering harvests, provoking water shortages and stressing life in general.

In July 2019 the temperature escalated once again in large part of Europe triggered by another heat wave, which was caused by a strong omega block, consisting of hot, dry air from North Africa, trapped between cold storm systems. This provoked a deterioration of drought in the Czechia, Slovakia and Germany after a slight retreat in mid-July. In Czechia extreme drought developed with two worst grades of drought out of six on 30 % of the territory. Due to the heat at the end of the July and the large rainfall deficit from the previous year, the drought in many areas has become catastrophic. The "Association of German Forest Owners" spoke of a catastrophic century for the forests in Germany. The drought affecting also all major rivers in central Europe, which have very low water levels, causing problems in river transport.

While extremely dry conditions persisted over southwestern to central Europe, in other parts of south and southeastern Europe summer climatic water balance varied from favourable conditions in June to water deficit accompanied with heat waves in July. The Drought Watch tool detected the signs of drought in the Danube region along the Adriatic coast and in some areas in Serbia and Romania, but the extent of drought is not comparable to the severity of the drought that affected the northern part of the region. The drought development at the end July 2019 is very similar to drought development in the year 2018.

Drought as seen in Drought Watch between 20 June and 25 July 2019.

SWI on 20 June 2019

SWI on 5 July 2019

SWI on 15 July 2019

SWI on 25 July 2019






Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)