Extremely heavy rains hit parts of Croatia over the past 6 days, dropping as much as 300 mm (11.8 inches) in just 2 days and causing widespread floods, most notably in the towns of Gračac and Obrovac. Forecasters predict further downpours in the coming days, exacerbating the already severe conditions.
Gračac, one of the worst-affected areas, recorded a massive 425 mm (16.7 inches) of rain in just 5 days, significantly more than its May average of 330 mm (13 inches). The relentless downpour caused rivers to break their banks, resulting in flooded homes, roads, and public buildings.
On May 15, 2023, in response to the escalating crisis, authorities dispatched hundreds of soldiers to aid affected residents. Approximately a dozen people in Gračaac were forced to evacuate or seek refuge on the upper floors as the Otuča River overflowed its banks.
The town of Obrovac was also flooded as the Zrmanja River burst its banks. In just 24 hours, the city recorded 250 mm (9.8 inches) of rainfall, causing Zrmanja to reach a historic level of 302 cm (9.9 feet) — 39 cm (1.2 feet) above the previous record level. The flooding reached the old town core, the ground floor of the municipal building, and some business premises. By the morning of May 16, water levels dropped to 254 cm (8.3 feet) — this is just slightly less than the previous record level.
The rise in the water level of the Una River, approximately 3 cm (1.18 inches) per hour, led to emergency flood defense measures in Hrvatska Kostajnica on May 15. The surge in water levels resulted in the closure of State Road 47, interrupting traffic between Hrvatska Kostajnica and Dvor.
On May 17, the water levels of Una in Hrvatska Kostajnica are projected to exceed those recorded in December 2022, when heavy rains flooded the city and forced the declaration of a state of emergency.
The Karlovac area is also bracing for very high river water levels, prompting city authorities to prepare for a possible flood.
The torrential rains also affected northwestern Bosnia, with the towns of Bihać, Bosanska Krupa, and Cazin, and the municipalities of Ključ and Sanski Most experiencing floods.
Weather forecasts predict continued heavy rainfall over the affected regions in the coming two days, suggesting further challenges for these flood-stricken areas. The heaviest rains are expected south of Karlovac where more than 100 mm (4 inches) could fall in a matter of hours.
1 Vakula: U idućim danima bit će ekstrema. Kiša će padati sedam do deset dana – Index – May 15, 2023
2 Gradovi pod vodom, najgore tek dolazi. DHMZ izdao posebno upozorenje – N1 – May 15, 2023
3 Mjere odbrane od poplava u Hrvatskoj, rijeke se izlile na sjeverozapadu BiH – Al Jazeera – May 15, 2023
Featured image credit: Zadarska Županija
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