As reported by the Mayor’s Office, the river Danube has reached an unprecedented peak height in Budapest by the end of December this year due to the recent heavy rains and constant snowfall. The water level is anticipated to reach a peak of approximately 680 cm (22.3 ft) by Dec 28, 2023, Thursday morning, while on Tuesday afternoon, the river Danube is expected to surpass the quay’s height, reaching 645 cm (21.1ft).
Although Danube flooding is a common event, historically speaking, this is not a regular occurrence in late December, which took most Budapest citizens, and businesses, including river cruise companies, by surprise. Guests of some of the Danube sightseeing and dinner cruises are notified by the river cruise companies about the force majeure event: this means that if you have booked or are planning to book a Danube river cruise in Budapest, please check your email and phone for any updates about the flood. Not all cruises are cancelled, and, in all probability, all cruising will be resumed by Dec 29th or 30th when the Danube level returns to its navigable values, as we learnt from local Budapest river cruise companies and stakeholders.
1838 the Biggest Flood in Budapest
The biggest flood in Budapest in modern times occurred in 1838. This catastrophic flood was primarily caused by a combination of factors, including heavy and prolonged rainfall in the region, rapid melting of snow in the mountains (the Alps in neighbouring Austria as well as the Black Mountains in Germany where the Danube originates from), and the frozen state of the Danube River, which blocked the flow of water downstream.
The key to Danube Floods in Budapest
- Heavy Rainfall: unusually heavy and continuous rainfall in the spring of 1838 led to a significant increase in the water levels of the Danube and its tributaries.
- Snowmelt: The winter of 1837-1838 had seen a substantial accumulation of snow in the Alps and other regions upstream from Budapest including the Carpathian Mountains. As temperatures rose in the spring, this snow began to melt rapidly, adding even more water to the river.
- Frozen Danube: Prior to the flood, the Danube River had been frozen for an extended period, creating ice dams and preventing the normal flow of water. When the ice eventually broke up due to the rising temperatures, it exacerbated the flooding.
The culmination of all the above resulted in one of the most devastating floods in Budapest’s history. Large parts of the city were submerged, causing widespread damage and displacement of residents. After the 1838 flood, significant efforts were made to improve flood defences, including the construction of high embankments and solid flood walls along the Danube, specifically tailored for Budapest city, to help mitigate the impact of future floods.
Cars Removed from Danube Flood in Budapest
In response to the escalating water levels, the removal of vehicles parked along the closed lower quays of Buda and Pest has commenced. These areas are expected to experience flooding at multiple points,