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Danube water levels 2021 and similar topics - plus tips and info


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Hello everyone,

 

here is the thread on the Danube for 2021.

 

We will look again at the weather and most importantly the river levels. Do join us this year - also in this quiet time now - with your comments and tips. Safe travels.

 

notamermaid

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Last week, the Danube saw flooding due to heavy rainfall and some snow melt. The weather was mild for Winter. Now the temperatures are below zero even during the day and the weather is dry. The levels along the German Danube have fallen again below official (mild) flooding status. In brief, for those who are new to the subject: low water is the more disrupting condition on the German Danube, flooding is often only short and river traffic not halted for long. One thing to look out for is a low bridge in Passau which causes problems with passage for river cruise ships when the level reaches 630cm. That level had been reached a few days ago but is now down to 581cm.

 

Whith the level favourable, river cruise ships could soon sail again but whether they may just go through Germany or into other countries - or indeed sail at all right from the beginning of the season - will depend on the various restrictions. For Germany, it looks highly unlikely that the first passengers will embark at Passau (Engelhartszell) for the first A-ROSA itinerary on 9 March.

 

notamermaid

 

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We know that many river cruises along the German Danube start in Nuremberg on the Main Danube Canal and have Regensburg as the next stop. And then Passau, or in recent years before that town, it is Straubing or Vilshofen. Due to the low water issues, Vilshofen has acquired a stronger role as an embarkation port. Deggendorf may be known to some as an excursion stop as well.

 

So is there anything else, any other places offered on a river cruise that lies between Nuremberg and Passau? There is and I am not saying it is the only one, but let us have a quick look at Donaustauf. Donaustauf is a small town in the rural district of Regensburg. You may not be surprised to read it has a (ruined) castle. Historically it was already a marketplace in the late Middle Ages, so of some importance in the region. But what makes the small town stand out for river cruisers is the "Walhalla" on a hill nearby. It is a "hall of fame" for historical figures, a memorial: https://www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/objects/walhalla.htm

 

Donaustauf/Walhalla has a landing stage for river cruise ships of up to 135m: http://www.donauanlegestellen.de/donaustauf_x_walhalla.html

 

Being so close to Regensburg, it may not be frequented much by international river cruise ships. Of those available to the German market (not having done an exhaustive search) I could only find the CroisiEurope itinerary Strasbourg to Linz.

 

Have you been to the Walhalla, perhaps on an excursion from Regensburg on land?

 

notamermaid

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Danube water levels. The river can have - and has regularly - problems with water levels for much of its length. What does regularly mean? It means with flooding every year for a bit, mostly during winter and snow melt, less so in later Spring and Summer. Low water in its worst form happens on the German Danube between Straubing and Vilshofen, by this I mean this is the stretch that will affect river cruisers the most. It often happens in the Danube Delta and may not be at the same time as on the Upper Danube. But it can happen in other stretches along the Danube as well. It will affect the stretches regulated by locks to a much lesser extent.

 

This is a general overview for those new to that topic for the Danube.

 

I always focus on the German stretch for river cruising. Last year I posted graphs for the gauging station at Pfelling to show potential cruisers what can happen. If you are interested, have a look: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2721657-danube-water-levels-2020-and-similar-topics-plus-tips-and-info/

It is fast reading as, sadly, the thread only has eight pages, for the reason that almost noone sailed and gave their stories or people asking questions.

 

To 2021. How has the year started and what may we see when the season starts - pretending it will in about three weeks time?

 

January saw a sudden thaw with much rain, so on the graph you see a fast rise:

 

image.png.5fc1135b2015e504fc0d29c39ee153f9.png

 

MW is statistical medium level. HSW is official flooding level, a marker for shipping. It does not mean that at that level towns and landscape are being flooded. The level went down well with the colder temperatures and less rain (which was also retained as snow). Rising temperatures have not led to more flooding as there has been little rain. A bit of rain is forecast for this week and next, so this should keep the level from falling too low for sailing too quickly. I think the water level will not be the issue this year for the season having a good start...

 

notamermaid

 

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

It has been nearly a month, so let us briefly revisit the Danube in Bavaria. The level at Pfelling:

 

image.png.ed840587504b655081c8cc9e0c6c4ba7.png

 

I need to explain something. The large graph has been adjusted, i.e. you cannot just lie month after month next to another to get a line throughout the year. For orientation how to continue reading it, look at the line MW, that is the mean. As you can see the line HSW has disappeared and the Danube has remained at a lower level through the end of February and into March, but being close to the mean still means good sailing conditions. Austrian levels are also looking good by the way, as is to be expected.

 

If the ships were allowed to sail - they are still not in Germany and Austria - passengers would find favourable conditions but find the weather quite cool for Spring. Temperatures range from minus 2 Celsius during the night to plus 8 Celsius during the day. But it is going to get warmer from Wednesday.

 

notamermaid

 

 

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  • 5 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

It is the annual maintenance week on the Main Danube Canal, but it is actually not just a week. After closures on the Danube in Germany, work has moved onto the Canal and through the rest of April the lock chambers are emptied and inspected with repairs carried out, some scheduled, but some unforeseen repairs may be necessary. After that, traffic will hopefully run smoothly for the rest of the year. This is likely on the Canal but on the Danube? We will no doubt see days with low water levels again but how much we have no way of knowing.

 

A month has passed since I last posted the water levels in a graph, so let us have a look at Pfelling again:

image.png.6c6c43bdc9e2ee7f9c0325cc0ca6603c.png

The level is at 306cm, which is relatively low for April. Into Thursday the level is forecast to more or less stagnate but to sustain it into the beginning of May I would think that at least a bit of rain is needed. Apart from a little tomorrow in a band of clouds covering some of the Upper Danube valley and the river's tributaries and a tiny bit on Monday in the Southern half of the tributaries, there is no rain forecast for a week.

 

notamermaid

 

Edited by notamermaid
grammar
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As a hoped-to-be first-time river cruiser--Crystal Ravel Budapest to Vilshofen departing 27 October 2021--thank you, notamermaid, for all  your insights.  It makes for fascinating reading and we will continue to follow through the season.

 

Take care,

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A quick look at Pfelling tells us that it has rained quite a bit in the catchment area of the German Danube in the last week (thankfully) so the river has started May with a pleasant level for river cruising - except that no river cruise ships are sailing. 404cm this afternoon is a good basis for a potential restart. But I have my doubts that it will happen soon.

 

Let us have a look at the Danube upstream from Kelheim - that is where the navigable stretch ends for river cruise ships. Quite a bit further lies the city of Ulm. You may be familiar with its famous landmark: the Ulm Minster. It has the highest steeple in the world. I posted the video in a previous year, the text plus video is part of a series of extreme places in Europe. Perhaps something new for those new to this thread: https://m.dw.com/en/high-higher-ulm-minster/a-57339895

 

notamermaid

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It may be warm outside and not the season, but the magic of a well manufactured snow globe never fails. Even better when it is really handmade with love. The original company of the snow globe is in Vienna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9rC-OHO5Ww

 

And this is the website: https://schneekugel.at/index.php/

 

notamermaid

 

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It is official. Austria is allowing river cruises from today. Today is the big opening of hotels and other places. Also, quarantine is no longer required when coming from some European countries.

 

It is also about a month since I last posted the river level so this is a good opportunity to look at Pfelling again:

image.png.ed094387bf96af83ad7836a013ac16e9.png

There has been quite a bit of rain in the last three weeks, so the level has risen a lot and is staying at this level quite a bit above the mean. A high level could impact the passage under a bridge at Passau but this is not a problem there (yet). For now, this looks at if this will not become an issue.

 

But river cruises in Germany will not happening before June. If you wanted to do a Vienna return trip tomorrow within Austria would that be plain sailing? It would, as the levels in Austria are good, in Linz around the mean for example, at 389cm this hour, with neither a large fall nor a large rise forecast.

 

notamermaid

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the link. A feel good story indeed. An impressive couple. I like the answer to the question "Why are you paddling up the Danube?": "Why not?" It is almost philosophical.

 

There has been awareness of the damage humans do to our rivers for quite some time now, but I think the last year has further increased it. We send all that stuff down the Danube which then endangers the Delta with its impressive wildlife. It is good to see people act instead of talk.

 

And those birds certainly look regal.

 

notamermaid

 

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Let us have a look at the level of the Danube at Pfelling again:

image.png.6b9c24586ca79653b694fd66ef15225a.png

At the beginning of May the level rose sharply (see previous graph). It has stayed at a good level throughout the month. A sharp rise occurred in the first week of June which looks dramatic but did not bring the level up to official flooding. With a dry and hot spell now here, the level has fallen for several days but it is still just under the mean. The hot weather is leading to thunderstorms and extensive rain is forecast to fall from Sunday, particularly at the beginning of next week in the Upper Danube valley - the section which is not navigable for river cruise ships. This should ensure a continued good level for sailing. The caveat being that a sharp rise could lead to problems with that bridge in Passau. But for now, the levels look good.

 

notamermaid

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

By chance I came across a rather unusual sight along the Danube river while searching the internet and if you believe Atlas Obscura it is an old cable car station. This German one says it is a coal loader building: https://wunderbaresungarn.de/nachrichten/esztergom/gebaeude-auf-riesigen-stelzen-ueber-der-donau-der-kohlelader-in-esztergom/

 

I love this photo, old steel at near sunset is just my thing: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Szénrakodó-esztergom.jpg

 

Wish I had seen this on my river cruise, it was not pointed out to us, so I may have missed it because I left the ship for the Esztergom excursion and went to Budapest by coach from there.

 

notamermaid

 

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3 minutes ago, notamermaid said:

By chance I came across a rather unusual sight along the Danube river while searching the internet and if you believe Atlas Obscura it is an old cable car station. This German one says it is a coal loader building: https://wunderbaresungarn.de/nachrichten/esztergom/gebaeude-auf-riesigen-stelzen-ueber-der-donau-der-kohlelader-in-esztergom/

I can't believe that it could be a cable car station, because it is over the water. Where would people be coming from to load (and the rounded portion would be where the cable cars turn around and load and unload. I think the coal loader makes a bit more sense.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is flooding on the Danube in Bavaria. Pfelling, which in past years had been close to drought in July, is experiencing an unusual rise in level (unusual but not unheard of) due to torrential rain over the Southwest and South of Germany. The level stands at 609cm which is above the flood warning II level. Shipping would be halted at 620cm but it looks as if that figure will not be reached.

 

Passau is at 636cm and still rising. From 630cm passage of river cruise ships under a bridge there is impaired.

 

@steamboats I hope you are doing okay in Munich. I expect the Isar is quite high now as well?

 

notamermaid

 

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3 hours ago, notamermaid said:

I hope you are doing okay in Munich. I expect the Isar is quite high now as well?

 

Not too bad at my place. The Isar river is still not that high. We walked to downtown through the Englischer Garten yesterday. Still o.k.. But most of the heavy rain was North of Munich in Franconia West of Nuremberg. That was the area most hidden.

 

steamboats

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Good to read. Franconia hit the most - that explains the fast rise at Pfelling and not quite as pronounced at Passau. Pfelling has just fallen below the flood warning level I marker, so is on the downward slope.

 

notamermaid 

 

 

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It is time to revisit the Danube at Pfelling. The graph looks like this:

image.png.a0c5b39da56a72a3c793b50f353b8f3f.png

 

The river rose alarmingly fast after the heavy rain a few days ago. The nice downward slope has come to a halt and with the heavy rain in parts of Bavaria the Danube is forecast to rise but not as fast as before. A rise back to flooding level is not anticipated in the next 48 hours.

 

notamermaid

 

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Despite the low pressure area losing some of its strength while drifting East, it has hit the Bavarian Alps with great force wreaking havoc along the Inn river. It has swelled up and as its mouth is at Passau the situation in the town is dangerous. Flood alert level 3.

 

notamermaid

 

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Trying to decide if we stay on our Uniworld Rhine river cruise Sept 19 or move to Danube cruise about the same time?  Seems like Rhine river so high and towns flooded will the riverboats even sail this month?   But then Passau and Danube having trouble for passage.  what will Sept bring?

 

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