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Red alert issued for northern Slovenia due to expected heavy rainfall

The expected extreme meteorological and hydrological conditions in Slovenia were presented at the press conference by meteorologist Branko Gregorčič and hydrologist Janez Polajnar, both from the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO), a representative of the Slovenian Water Agency, Rok Penec, and the Commander of the Civil Protection Service of the Republic of Slovenia, Srečko Šestan.

Meteorologist Branko Gregorčič began by saying that the storms had already spread along the western coast of Istria in the morning hours and moved across Slovenian Istria towards Goriška and Posočje. In the early afternoon and later in the afternoon and evening, the bulk of weather events will move mainly over central Slovenia, so the area between Snežnik and the Kamnik Alps, where the heaviest rainstorms are expected this afternoon and evening, is of utmost concern. At the same time, ARSO expects a rapid increase in torrential streams. Mr Gregorčič added that due to the vulnerability of the areas already affected by floods this month, ARSO issued the highest level of warning, a red alert, for these areas, while maintaining an orange weather alert for the rest of Slovenia. ARSO also predicts heavy rainfall during the day tomorrow, when it is expected to spread over most of the country. The situation is expected to stabilise slowly on Wednesday, with partly clear weather and no major weather events in the second half of the week.

Hydrologist Janez Polajnar said that today's intense rainfall is expected to lead to increasing torrential streams and flooding of hinterland waters, especially in the river basins between Snežnik, the Kamnik Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and in the Karavanke Mountains. The centre of gravity of the torrential events may be in the Reka and Ljubljanica river basins, in the Notranjska part of the Ljubljanica river basin, moving over the Polhograjski Dolomiti into the Škofjeloško hills and then to the Gorenjska region. Torrential stream outbursts can be expected along the left tributaries of the Sava River from Jesenice through Kad, Tržiška Bistrica and Kamniška Bistrica towards the Savinja river.

He stressed that due to the changed runoff conditions in the affected parts of the river basins, it is not known exactly how the water will flow, so the utmost caution will be needed there. The main hydrologic events today will occur at the tributaries of large rivers, torrential streams and areas prone to the flooding of hinterland and rain waters. Tomorrow’s rain will fall on a surface already wet from previous precipitation, which means that, in vulnerable areas like the Savinja and Mežica Valleys, the volume of runoff resulting from additional rainfall is not entirely clear. Large rivers will also rise, with Drava and Mura expected to flood in the usual flood zones sometime tomorrow, while the lower reaches of Sava and Savinja will likely remain in their beds.

Rok Penec said that the Slovenian Water Agency will strive to the best of its abilities to implement all necessary water regulation measures to ensure flow capacity. Based on the issued hydrologic forecast, the agency will monitor potentially problematic torrential tributaries. These locations will also require all the necessary mechanisation in the event of a sudden rise in water level to prevent any harmful impact of the waters on infrastructure and human health and lives.

The Geological Survey of Slovenia warns that the precipitation forecast with possible local storms poses an increased risk of the reactivation of landslides in areas affected by the recent flooding. The likelihood of new landslides in unaffected areas is lower, but not zero. Residents are asked to monitor the state of landslides and any changes in the ground, buildings and slopes, and follow the instructions provided by the Civil Protection Service, particularly in the event of an evacuation.

The Civil Protection Commander, Srečko Šestan, called upon the residents of Slovenia, particularly those living in vulnerable areas, to check the situation regularly, particularly the radar image of precipitation, and remove themselves from potential danger in time. "Right now, that is more or less the only action we can take against this type of flooding, namely torrential flooding," said Mr Šestan, recalling that the national emergency response plan for floods is still activated, as are all regional headquarters, and that firefighters are on standby as well.