Fall rains predicted to ease Europe’s historic drought

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This fall may bring respite from a great drought that may be Europe’s worst in at least 500 years, EU scientists said today.

Almost half of the European landmass is currently under a drought alert, a report from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) said. But it predicted that “close to normal” weather will return in the coming months.

“In many areas of Europe, this is the first good signal in terms of in terms of drought” which might lead to an easing of “the current critical condition,” said report author and JRC scientist Andrea Toreti.

Toreti said a full analysis of this year’s drought would reveal whether it has been worse than the spring and summer of 2018, which was Europe’s most extreme recorded dry spell since at least 1500.

“We haven’t finalized the analysis of this year’s event because it is still ongoing. But by looking at the event this year, it seems to be worse than 2018,” he said.

Parts of Spain and Portugal are expected to stay hot and dry until November; in southern Spain reservoirs are now at 30 percent of average levels.

But the forecast will provide some hope across a Continent where great rivers are now low and sluggish, crops yields are being slashed and forests are under strain.

Toreti found “widespread stress on vegetation,” especially in the Italian lowlands, Hungary and parts of Serbia and Romania.