Precipitation shortage will remain very high, as Rhine nears record lows
The incredibly low average national precipitation will reach a low point this week in line with figures seen in 2018. The precipitation deficit during this summer and the summer of 2018 is in the top 5 percentile for the driest years since measurements began in 1901.
The only time it was drier this century was in 2003. Dutch meteorological institute KNMI does expect some rain in the coming days, but that will not be enough to remedy the precipitation shortage and the ongoing drought.
It rained a bit on Monday in parts of the Netherlands, but not everywhere. More rain was expected locally, and larger showers were predicted for Thursday, the KNMI said. In Germany and the Alps, there will be more showers until Friday, which should lead to a rise in Rhine river levels in Lobith, at the German border.
But after that, it will become drier and warmer again, and water discharge will decrease again. Currently, the water level is at 6.53 meters above NAP. The record of 6.49 meters was set on 29 October 2018. Rijkswaterstaat said on Tuesday that it expects the water level to drop further in the coming days.
The average water level at Lobith at this time of year is about 8.70 meters above NAP. Very low water levels are more common in the autumn because meltwater from the Alps stops and no longer enters the river.
By the end of the week, the Rhine water discharge at Lobith will drop to 650 cubic meters of water per second. That too is very close to the lowest discharge ever recorded at this time of year. This indicator of the amount of available water is an important factor for commercial shipping. The water level can change over the years because the shape of the river and the channel changes.
Rain showers hardly help get more water into the ground, according to the water managers. The parched ground is now rock hard. Rain will then wash away into gutters and other drains. It has to rain heavily throughout the Netherlands for weeks to get the groundwater back up to standard.
In the spring of 2019, the effects of the drought in the summer of 2018 were still very noticeable. At the moment, Zeeland, the Achterhoek, and the southern part of Limburg are struggling with a precipitation deficit of around 300 millimeters.
Reporting by ANP