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Flooding on Elbe River
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Heavy rains in Central Europe over the past few weeks have led to some of the worst flooding the region has witnessed in more than a century. The floods have killed more than 100 people in Germany, Russia, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic and have led to as much as $20 billion in damage. This false-color image of the Elbe River and its tributaries was taken on August 18, 2002, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.
Portions of the Elbe River rose from the usual summer high of 6 feet (1.8 meters) to over 30 feet (9.1 meters). In the Czech Republic capital of Prague, which sits at the lower right-hand corner of the image, residential streets filled with water and thousands were evacuated from their homes. Further north in Dresden, Germany, the floods reached levels not seen since 1845. The water seeped into the historic buildings and threatened precious works of art. City officials estimate that the damage to Dresden will probably exceed $100 million. As the floodwaters moved north over the weekend, thousands of people abandoned the cities of Magdeburge and Bitterfeld, Germany, and rescue workers lined the exposed riverbanks with sandbags. German meteorologists expect the flooding to subside over the next week as little rain is expected.