A few days ago, Unknown Country Climate Watch predicted "extremes of flooding" across the Northern Hemisphere. Those who read this site regularly will know how accurate Climate Watch predictions have proved to be, and this one, unfortunately, is no exception.
Unbelievable and unprecedented floods have decimated parts of the Balkans region in Europe, which was deluged by over a foot (0.3m) of rain in just two days, the equivalent of four month's typical rainfall for that area. Large areas of Serbia, Bosnia and eastern Croatia are now under water, with an instant inland sea created across the region.
A state of emergency has been declared in many places by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic including the capital, Belgrade.
"This is the greatest flooding disaster ever. Not only in the past 100 years; this has never happened in Serbia's history," he said. "These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100."
Over 3000 mud and landslides have been generated by the floodwaters, adding to the carnage which has left close to 50 people dead so far. Many thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes, roads are blocked and buildings are damaged or buried by mud.
Bosnian Serb police chief Gojko Vasic said the situation had been particularly difficult in Doboj "because the flood waters acted as a tsunami, three to four metres high."
Further surges are expected along the river Sava, threatening to engulf the largest power plant in Serbia, and there are now concerns at Kostolac, west of Belgrade, where the Mlava river broke through a second ring of flood protection to endanger another major power plant which provides 20% of Serbia's electricity.
Alma Muslibegovic, a spokeswoman for the country's EPS power firm, said: "The army, police, volunteers and Kostolac employees are using all mechanisation and are piling up sandbags to slow the river flow and prevent it from entering the power generation system."
The Sava marks the border of Croatia and Bosnia and flows into the Danube, where further surges are expected between May 22nd and 23rd in Romania and Bulgaria, which have so far escaped with only minor flooding.
The floods have also resulted in a less obvious but potentially deadly threat in the form of landmines left over from the conflict during the 1990s, which the waters have unearthed from underground. Warning signs have been washed away so there is no longer any indication where the buried mines lay.
From a humanitarian perspective, the floods appear to have washed away old grudges, with Croatian and Slovene military helicopters seen flying rescue missions in Bosnia, and Croatian police assisting emergency services. Help has been offered by Kosovo authorities but this has not been a accepted; however, global support is pouring in, with help being offered by Russia, the European Union and the U.S..
The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and another senior churchman have used the floods as a weapon to attack the country’s lesbian and gay community along with Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian drag queen who won the Eurovison song contest on May 10th. The clergymen claim that the floods are a punishment from God for their sins, but experts are attributing this, and the other now frequent extreme weather events being seen across the world, to the effects of global warming, though this phenomenon could arguably be considered a man-made "sin" against the planet.
The historic storm resulted from a significant area of low pressure that was detached from the jet stream, the winds that normally drive weather systems and prevent them from lingering for too long in any one area. Consequently, the storm was able to loiter in the region for days, constantly drawing moisture from the Mediterranean Sea which was then responsible for the huge levels of precipitation in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Observations indicate that such severe precipitation has increased significantly in recent years, bringing floods to Britain, Germany, Poland, France and the Czech Republic and other places in Europe. In the U.S., extreme rainfall events have increased by 71% in the Northeast since 1958, and severe flooding affect the South last month, when Florida declared a state of emergency after the Gulf Coast was deluged by the worst floods in decades.
So, the effects of global warming are in our present, not at some distant point in our future. We are already living with the legacy of climate change, and it is likely to get worse unless something drastic is done with immediate effects. Unknown Country has always brought you the latest news regarding this most serious threat to our home planet, and Whitley's unique insights have always proved to be uncannily accurate. Subscribe to Unknown Country today, and keep this essential and inimitable news site online!