European floods. From global warming? or "greedy mayors"? Maybe both.
According to New Scientist:
it is the widespread building that has taken place on river flood plains across central Europe in recent years that is to blame for why the intense rainfall had such a catastrophic effect....
There is growing evidence that policies over recent years have, if anything, made matters worse.
Engineers have channelled all the major rivers that flooded this month - draining wetlands, straightening meanders and cutting them off from their flood plains with high banks.
The aim was to protect surrounding land from floods and send the water down to the sea as fast as possible. But instead it has tended to create massive and comparatively sudden surges of water down the rivers, where in the past the water would have been delayed for days or even weeks as it meandered across the river's natural flood plain.
"Flood peaks are higher and more damaging in places where wetlands and flood plains have been cut off from rivers, channelling more water into an unnaturally small space," says G Lutschinger, a flood-plain ecologist and chief executive of the environment group WWF Austria.
Analyses by Bruce Hannon, in the wake of the Mississippi floods of a few years ago, documented the phenomenon in painful detail: US Army Corps of Engineers' flood prevention efforts actually make floods worse.