Drought of 1973

Central Europe

Drought Event Summary

The 1973 drought event was a spring drought, related to low winter precipitation. It was not as severe when compared to other droughts in the record, but was extensive, affecting much of central Europe and parts of the Iberian peninsula.

The drought peak is not particularly well defined, but occurred between March and April of 1973 in Great Britain, France, Germany, and southern Scandinavia. Drought conditions began to retreat by May 1973 for much of Europe.

Following this, a more isolated drought developed, affecting Scandinavia in late summer and early fall. Because of this, the maximum extent of climatological drought occurred in March 1973, differing from the meteorological drought peak, which occurred the following November in Scandinavia.

Drought Statistics

Approx. duration: 1/1973-7/1973

Date of SPI-6 min: 20/2/1973

Date of hydrological min: 18/11/1973

Affected regions: Central Europe (spring) and Scandinavia (summer)

Climatological Drought

In winter of 1973, a high pressure ridge stretched east-west across Europe causing low precipitation in central Europe. By March this ridge had shifted towards the British Isles, producing the most severe precipitation shortages there. This blocking effect continued, resulting in low rainfall across a wide region of central Europe by April 1973.

Progression of climatological (SPI-6) drought. Climatological drought is defined by the SPI-6, which sums precipitation over the previous 6 months and transforms this value to the standard normal distribution. Negative SPI values (shown in red) represent dry conditions, measured in standard deviations from typical conditions. Percent area in drought is calculated by summing all cells less than the 20th percentile (SPI < -0.84).

Hydrological Drought

The hydrological drought peak occured in November, significantly later than the meteorological drought peak. This fall hydrological drought was centered in Scandinavia and eastern Europe.

Peak hydrological drought. with Hydrological drought is based on output nine large-scale hydrological models. Viewed spatially (left), areas with runoff below the 10th and 20th percentiles are shown in red and orange, respectively. The cluster centre (right) shows the centroid from each of the hydrological models during the drought peak.

Drought Impacts

According to Bradford (2000), in 1973 countries in North and Central Europe (UK, Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia) were affected by drought conditions. ┼lesund and other areas in Norway were affected by water use restrictions because of water shortage in 1972 (Aftenposten 1972-03-07). According to Cole & Marsh (2006) drought conditions from summer 1972 to late 1973 affected the most of England and Wales but became not critical in most areas; notable deficiencies were observed for spring-fed rivers and aquifers and streams in Chalk areas but summer flows were mostly not extreme. (No documentary evidence of impact could be found by Cole & Marsh).

Location of drought impact reports. Darker colors refer to more reported impacts in the EDII. Scroll over each country to see more detail.

Impact Detail Table

Drought Event Country Start Date End Date Impact Impact Category Impact Description NUTS 1 NUTS 2 NUTS 3 Reference
1973 Central Europe 8/1973 1973 1.8 other According to the Agro meteorological bulletin the Štajerska & Dolenjska regions in Slovenia are heavily affected by the drought. Slovenija; Slovenija;