Severe weather in Austria: Violent thunderstorm cell causes chaos and damage on Tuesday (23 May), as here in Graz (Styria). © Screenshot Facebook BF-Graz/ Jakob Frey
A thunderstorm cell with heavy rain and hail caused flooded streets and basements in Styria. Trees were uprooted.
Graz – A violent thunderstorm hit regions in Austria on Tuesday (24 May). Hail damage amounting to millions of euros has been incurred. Arable and fruit crops have been destroyed. Styria is particularly affected. Burgenland and Lower Austria were also damaged by the severe storm. It was not until May that heavy snowfall caused chaos in Austria.
Severe weather in Austria: Violent thunderstorm cell discharges at 14 p.m.
Around 14 p.m., the thunderstorm cell fell in Graz, reports the ORF. Gusts of wind knocked down trees, basements and streets were flooded. The masses of water temporarily paralyzed rail traffic. The route between the Graz Trade Fair and Gleisdorf had to be completely closed at times due to flooding. In Graz alone, the professional fire brigade had to work through 100 operations, according to its own information.
Severe storms in Austria: "Unbearable how people are suffering"
In the surrounding area, the volunteer fire brigades were challenged after the heavy rainfall. Streams burst their banks and turned roads into rivers. In Hart bei Graz, quick help was needed due to overflowing streams. "A lot of surface water" made the firefighters according to ORF. The extreme storm situation caused problems for the mayor Jakob Frey of the affected community, as a post on social networks shows:
"It is unbearable when you have to watch how people have to suffer from the ever stronger and more frequent severe weather events and you can't help nearly enough," writes Mayor Frey on Facebook with the status "feels angry". And further: "Thank you to all the emergency services, especially the Hart bei Graz fire brigade for their commitment."
Severe weather in Austria (Styria): Harsh reactions to the mayor's Facebook post
The reaction to the post from the mayor of the municipality of Hart bei Graz follows promptly. The criticism predominates. Above all, users denounce the soil sealing in the village. Reproach the mayor for failing to build a retention basin for more than 15 years and instead sealing even more areas:
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- "Since the settlements were built above us, my entire economy has been totally flooded with every second thunderstorm."
- "Thanks to all the soil sealing and the few green spaces in Hart, it is clear that the water has nowhere to drain away. Unfortunately, it is getting worse and worse due to climate change and the whole construction project. We'll see what it will look like in the next few years."
- "What we're seeing here are also the effects of excessive soil sealing."
Violent thunderstorm cell "not a particularly extraordinary event"
One user even gives a TV tip on the subject of soil sealing, which can be found in the ORF media library. It is still unclear whether the criticism will reach Mayor Jakob Frey. The fire brigade in Graz, on the other hand, is clearly commenting on the weather on Tuesday.
"This is not a particularly extraordinary event. For those who are directly affected, it is of course always dramatic, but if you look at it now on the entire city area, this cell is actually very small-scale," said the head of operations of the Graz fire department, Ingo Mayer on ORF.
Storm in Austria: Hail damage amounting to three million euros
However, the storms in Austria have caused the first major damage to agriculture. "After initial inspections by our experts, we expect a total loss of three million euros in the provinces of Lower Austria, Burgenland and Styria, two million euros of which will be in Styria alone," said Mario Winkler, press spokesman for Austrian Hail Insurance, according to a statement. In an initial assessment, arable and fruit crops on an area of 9,000 hectares had been damaged.
Violent storms also raged in Germany. Entire villages were flooded with water and mud. (ml)