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Rhine water levels 2023 and similar topics


notamermaid
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We are about seven weeks out from our cruise so I am beginning to watch the 6-Wochen-Vorhersage für den Pegel Kaub. At least the current prediction does show a probable increase from this week's level, but I would be relieved to see that climatological based bar in the middle move up a bit. Hopefully there is more precipitation over the next few weeks. I guess some snow melt, to the extent there is snow in the Rhein watershed, will probably help provide water in the river by then. Fingers crossed / Daumen drücken. 

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2 hours ago, RDVIK2016 said:

Fingers crossed / Daumen drücken. 

Yes, I think that overall the river is a bit too low for comfort. In an unusual turn of events the Rhine is worse than both Danube and Elbe. I will have a look at the river at Kaub in detail later.

 

First: good news! The "Carl Straat" ship is allowed to keep its protected status on the basis of its national importance as a piece of engineering history, i.e. should be kept for the public to look at. The owner has one more shot at appeal with a higher court. Not clear yet if they will go down that route.

 

notamermaid

 

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It is March and time to look at what the river did at Kaub in February. Here is the graph:

image.png.3a3825ae712d242930288c5630e62918.png

 

The month started with a pleasant, slightly low for this time of year, level and rain brought the figures up to just above the mean. A steady, relatively fast, decline followed promptly but stabled itself when reaching 125cm. The end of the month saw a further drop which has now resulted in a low level that should not be ignored in these now dry weather conditions. The cold keeps snow in the high mountains but further falling of the water level is also slow in the cold. However, without enough precipitation we need to anticipate levels that get the river to a low that could potentially affect river cruise ships - an unusual occurrence in March.

 

Looking ahead from the current level of 106cm into tomorrow and Sunday we see a further reduction in numbers but still keeping above 100cm. That is a little better than the chart had suggested 48 hours ago. This trend is expected to continue Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday into Wednesday are still considered to be the days with the lowest levels and the probability tells us that the figures are most likely to be below 97cm but keeping very likely quite a bit above 85cm. All in all this is a bit better than was suggested four days ago when the second week of March came closer into view in the computer calculations.

 

That was a longer close look at Kaub. In short, the first sailings are now a little less likely to experience any affect from the low water situation, especially as a fast return to levels above 100cm could happen on 10 March.

 

notamermaid

 

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A quick look to see if anything has changed to what I posted on Friday. No, it basically still stands. We should get through that little low fine, current level is 102cm, drop to somewhere between 95cm and 85cm on 7/8 March, then a fast rise on the 10th. And that could be substantial, up to 300cm is likely and maybe further on the 13th. Which is a fast rise for the river but we have seen this kind of situation in previous years in winter.

 

notamermaid

 

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Kaub is now at 98cm, so the forecast scenario has been very close to what the river is actually doing. The lowest level suggested is now 92cm, from there we should see the river rise late on Thursday.

 

Maxau in the Upper Rhine valley is a very good indicator of things to come. The tentative forecast suggests a sharp rise on the 12th with the peak on the 13th and it indicates that mild flooding status may be reached. This does not automatically translate into flooding at Kaub or further downstream but the rise will be substantial. In figures: Maxau is at 378cm and may well get to 620cm and a bit further. Which does not necessitate a ban on shipping, it is unlikely to get that high. Still, it is staying interesting. Especially as there may be late winter snow in the hills at an altitude as low as 200m..

 

notamermaid

 

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As promised here is my little report on a trip to the Eifel region in Rhineland-Palatinate with a surprising find - Roman antiquities "in the middle of nowhere".

 

A trip to Nickenich village in the volcanic Eifel part 1

 

On Monday before Carnival I went to the area for a specific purpose but left myself enough time for a leisurely stroll to see a place I had not been to for many years. It turned out not to be the best day of the week for this but I will explain that later in my report. I went to the area not so long ago, but Nickenich has been only a vague memory from teenage years. This is deep German geography so I will give you an idea of what to expect. If you live in the forests of Canada with the next building five miles away you will find this place relatively populous, if you are visiting from Cologne this is countryside. On the map this is a 12 minute drive to west from Andernach and a 20 minute drive from Koblenz to the Northwest, right next to the "eye" - Laach lake. The volcanic lakes are nicknamed the "Eyes of the Eifel" and there are quite a few of them. We parked the car at the town hall and looked for a big town map display. Could not find one but found the plaque describing the impressive town hall building in German, English and French (!). A first surprise in such a small place. Either they get many tourists or they have a bit of money to just do it anyway...

The town hall which turned out to have been built by Koblenz architect Johann Claudius von Lassaulx:DSCN5929.thumb.JPG.7e862f3d83b813f90227444382aa00e1.JPG

 

The plaque:

DSCN5926.thumb.JPG.fb9a5bea05b2c691c7a74c28fe96908c.JPG

 

Turns out Nickenich has quite a few plaques and the next one is just a few metres up the road

DSCN5930.thumb.JPG.0441002c5f8652862fbc2f6bb04b0827.JPG

at the even more impressive Catholic Church Sankt Arnulf, which as you can read is another work of Lassaulx:

DSCN5931-Kopie.thumb.JPG.a2e9e52c2cb9a30bb3159caee56e560b.JPG

 

As the plaque says, the church tower is Romanesque, very old and the main church is from the 19th century. For a place that only had just over a thousand inhabitants when the church was built, this struck me as an expensive undertaking and a famous architect on top of that. And then the possible explanation came to me: the stone! This area is full of building material that can be quarried and you can tell that many houses, the town hall and the church are made of relatively local material or even the Eifel volcanic rocks. Quarries "just down the road"? Perfect! This is not a poor agricultural village. And it turns out a place inhabited for quite a bit more than the 950 years the town website says the village has celebrated to be in existence.

 

To be continued...

 

notamermaid

 

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The forecast was almost spot on, very good computer modelling. Monday gave the lowest figure at Kaub as 92cm, the actual level dipped very briefly to 91cm (two 15-minute readings were 90cm, basically negligible) and is now around 100cm. Next few days will see that fast rise I mentioned but it looks as if it will not be as high as had been suggested on Monday. Maxau may well stay under 520cm, Kaub may well stay under 300cm. So no flooding.

 

Right, back to Nickenich.

 

notamermaid

 

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Storm warning for the Southwest of Germany

 

This included Basel, Kehl for Strasbourg, and Breisach earlier but is easing. The Black Forest on storm warning level 3 is not a recommended place for walks. Other areas are on levels 1 and 2. The highest level we can have is 4. You can look this up here: https://www.dwd.de/DE/wetter/warnungen_landkreise/warnWetter_node.html

 

It looks as if this is getting better as the morning progresses.

 

notamermaid

 

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Well, it did get better but late afternoon, early evening the storm gathered strength again. Most of Rhineland-Palatinate went to level 2 (Basel back on 3) and there was a warning for snow storms in the high hills of North Rhine-Westphalia. Too late in the night for me to check if it happened, but forecast suggested during the night even the low hills were going to get snow.

 

This morning it has brightened up, the sun has come out in the Middle Rhine valley.

 

notamermaid

 

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The weather is quite eventful this week as well. It has been really warm, well into the double digits in some places. But it is stormy again (well, was during the day here) and today it has been chucking it down. As a result we see another fast rise of the river's water levels. Maxau has risen by 80cm since midnight, now at 547cm. The peak will be tomorrow, possibly before lunch. It should remain below 600cm, so again stay under a level that could have a significant impact on a river cruise itinerary.

 

The wave is forecast to reach Kaub during the early hours of tomorrow and peak Friday morning. No real flooding anticipated there either.

 

notamermaid

 

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As expected, Maxau has peaked and is already a bit down again, now at 578cm. All looking good for several days to come. The next rise is not expected for over a week and as of now does not look substantial. We need to get closer to the 18th to see what the 24th to the 26th may realistically bring in the Upper Rhine valley as regards water levels.

 

Oh, and it has snowed in the hills again, down to an elevation of 200m in the Middle Rhine valley. The night was cold.

 

notamermaid

 

 

Edited by notamermaid
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A trip to Nickenich village in the volcanic Eifel part 2

 

A churchyard, complete with cemetery or not, and church always need exploring. As one can expect in Germany anywhere in such a setting there was a war memorial for WWI. The archangel Michael slaying the dragon, as far as I can tell made of local stone:

DSCN5932.thumb.JPG.f7e0654b3b2a5c070065f7d8167394b7.JPG

 

The one for WWII was just a few steps away.

 

On the steps this pretty butterfly greeted us in the sunlight, it was an astonishingly warm day for February:

DSCN5933-Kopie.thumb.JPG.5c87eb30fe05eb39fba9cb42eb98d8cf.JPG

 

I had lost my bearings and was not sure which way to go to find a specific street so I asked the lady at the church door. She was leaving as we were about to go in. Question answered but then she added: “And if you want to see the tumulus, that is up the village on the main road”. A cheerful thank you from me and my brain puzzled: did she mean tumulus as in Romano-Celtic burial hill??

But first the church. As only the chapel was accessible and the main church interior locked with iron bars, I took a photo of the unusual iron spiral staircase:

DSCN5934.thumb.JPG.107843ae395d459034af1bf6907bf748.JPG

and the hall through the gate's bars. The first floor above us there will likely hold the organ:

DSCN5935.thumb.JPG.d730093a7170d41aecb760a57e2965ab.JPG

 

I had mentioned in my previous post that Monday was an unfortunate choice for a visit. The reason: the bakery was closed! Monday sees very few people in the village and both bakeries are closed in the afternoon, so that Monday only gave us the chance to try out the butchers in Nickenich. I can confirm that the Wiener Würstchen sausages from there are good.

 

While walking the village streets I was able to find out that Nickenich once had a castle (altogether now: nooo surprise, this is Germany), which has long gone as an edifice, but a Burgstrasse still leads to the former spot:

DSCN5938.thumb.JPG.d0d775fae39b75395a857584b0219571.JPG

The building on the left there is a typical design in the area.

 

This gate is the old entrance to the working quarters of the castle:

DSCN5940.thumb.JPG.9331633b58c55d038caf1825227a9ad5.JPG

 

I would have liked to also check out the farm shop but things were getting a little late. After all, there was that tumulus that we still wanted to see.

 

This is another farm building that apparently offers potatoes as the small sign under the road sign says:

DSCN5939.thumb.JPG.d5c56c97aa13e13c8e68fd452c5f0b71.JPG

 

Then it was back to the car and up the road to the Tumulus.

 

To be continued…

 

notamermaid

 

 

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On 3/16/2023 at 11:43 PM, Rikboatman said:

I will be traveling with my wife in October from Amsterdam to Budapest. Hopefully water levels will be high enough. I am glad that I found this site so we can keep track of the conditions. 

Welcome to CruiseCritic and thank you for saying hello here. Perhaps you have actually looked at this already but it is kind of customary for us here on CC to recommend the pinned threads at the the top of this page to new members. Great info compiled by our host.

 

Amsterdam to Budapest is one of the longest standard journeys along the magnificent rivers of Europe. And you also get to see that feat of engineering which is the Main Danube Canal. That canal we cover as a topic in the thread on the Danube. If you fancy reading a bit about the Main this is the thread: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2670259-the-river-main-infos-and-river-cruising-experiences/

 

Things are quiet along the Rhine now, water levels are okay, and we have a bit of early Spring in the air, meaning the weather has calmed down. It is quite warm during the day.

 

Before I forget, I had mentioned we would look at the river at Maxau again to see what may happen on 24th to 26th March. Right now the most likely scenario is for the river level to be around 505cm on the 25th of March with the computer modelling giving a wide range of figures after that but looking favourable for the level to stay in a good range nevertheless, i.e. no extremes either way. This means Kaub looks good for the rest of the month.

 

notamermaid

 

 

 

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Greetings...

 

This is our first River Cruise and I just started reading about low water levels and concerns for this summer. 

 

Our cruise is from Amsterdam - Basel June 27 - July 2.   

 

Our final payment is due next week and I'm trying to get a sense of our chances of having issues with low water.   My thought is that I'll change our plans to some land-based options instead.  

 

I realize no one can predict the weather that far in advance.  However, I think there are those with good experience on this Board that might be able to help me assess our chances during that time of year. 

 

Will anyone care to share their insight? 

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7 hours ago, spicedparrot said:

Our cruise is from Amsterdam - Basel June 27 - July 2.   

Hello and welcome to CruiseCritic. You have chosen a very popular route for first time cruisers and I dare say a good date. Historically, flooding from Spring is through by then and low water not there yet. For the Rhine I am more confident than for the Danube to be able to stick to this for this year as well. We are starting on a bit of a low for this year but as we saw last week, the Rhine is able to get to a good level with just 24 hours of constant rain. This becomes a bit more difficult when the temperatures go up, i.e. needs a bit more rain. We cannot say what the weather will be in Summer but the real problems in the Rhine gorge tend to start in September. Last year saw an early start to problems at the end of July.

 

Also consider this: what is your company and ship? Viking with a 135m ship? Amawaterways with a 135m ship? Avalonwaterways with an older 110m ship? Or a different company entirely?

 

Also consider this: what will happen most likely when the water is too low? A ship swap? A cancellation? Do you know what your company's policy is?

 

Also consider this: where are you coming from, i.e. how do you need to travel to get to your cruise and what would a disruption do to your enjoyment?

 

All in all, companies do well, ship swaps are smooth on the Rhine - remember that they do not happen every year and I have not read of one being necessary during the time period you are travelling. Past cruisers please step forward if you have done a ship swap in the first half of July.

 

7 hours ago, spicedparrot said:

Our final payment is due next week and I'm trying to get a sense of our chances of having issues with low water.   My thought is that I'll change our plans to some land-based options instead.  

What would you change to that could be similar to a river cruise in the area? A river cruise is a unique experience. A land tour can give you a great different insight into life along the Rhine of course.

 

Question is really, how much are you willing to accept a disruption to your river cruise? Again, overall it is unlikely to happen - by that I mean on a probability scale for a calendar year - and when it does, depending on ship and company, it is likely to be mild but will require being flexible with excursions and coach travel.

 

notamermaid

 

 

Edited by notamermaid
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Wow...that was such a terrific response.   Thank you for taking the time to do so - that was just the sort of information I was hoping to learn.

 

We are sailing on Scenic - not sure how that play into things but its good to know that our chances during that time are promising.   We have pre and post cruise stays that we arranged on our own in Amsterdam and Switzerland.   So will have some flexibility if needed.

 

Thank you again!

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Also keep in mind (as NotaMermaid will inevitably go into at length if the need comes up)

"the river is a low" has a lot of various levels

 

-this isnt where it should be..but its ok

-its low and theyre not running barges at full capacity...cruise ships go through

-its REALLY low and they only running barges at the lowest possible loads...cruise ships probably go through

-I can see the bottom...everything stops.

 

And even then its not likely to be the entire river...at least not unless it REALLY gets bad, there are a few "pinch points" that will get too bad to cruise before most of the river, and thats where the ship swaps come in, one ship on either side of the problem..the passengers change ships and the ships go back the way they came to complete the itineraries.  This is where the larger lines have an easier time than some of the boutique lines because they probably had a ship scheduled in both those ports anyway pretty much every day.

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1 hour ago, CastleCritic said:

-this isnt where it should be..but its ok

-its low and theyre not running barges at full capacity...cruise ships go through

-its REALLY low and they only running barges at the lowest possible loads...cruise ships probably go through

-I can see the bottom...everything stops.

 

That put a smile on my face - well put together. 🙂 It is indeed the case that barges and tankers run at reduced load before any river cruise ship is affected. The river may be low for the logistics of trade and it makes the headlines in the US, especially in business papers. It could be low for weeks before any river cruise ship passenger needs to worry. An example: Kaub could fall to 150cm, which triggers the low water surcharge for the shipping industry, on 2 August, then fall further to 95cm in the following two weeks, only to go up again to 105cm. This is all low in figures but not a problem for a river cruise ship. The 95cm has the potential to be a bit tricky on a shallow docking site, but is normally not a problem for any sailing (tiny details only known to captains along the way excepted). Which brings me to Kaub in the Rhine Gorge where the bottleneck is infamously located. This is a marinetraffic.com screenshot:

image.thumb.png.ca9f33ad45e00c0a390ae149f1ff3591.png

 

You can follow your ship along, see where it is at any given time, but here is the caveat: the Rhine Gorge has sketchy terrestrial signals due to the hills, so the ships' signals are lost. You cannot get real time data with the free version of this website. Between Ingelheim and Boppard little data comes through.

 

notamermaid

 

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3 hours ago, spicedparrot said:

Wow...that was such a terrific response.   Thank you for taking the time to do so - that was just the sort of information I was hoping to learn.

 

My pleasure. I have a bit of time on my hands this weekend. You are sailing with Scenic. I have actually little recollection of scenarios of what the company has done over the years when the water was low. I think I should expand on my mention of river cruise ship sizes. Each ship is a tiny bit different but as a general rule, the shorter ships fare better when the river is low. As the standard is either 110m or 135m these days - few in between sizes remain - we can say that the difference in draft of those two sizes gives the smaller ships an advantage. It is not much but and not clear cut science. Your captain on your ship will know what is safest. I tend to give the figure of 90cm to look out for on the graph at Kaub on a downward trend. If the volume of water coming from the Upper Rhine valley is low and it does not rain, this could take the level at Kaub down to where you do not want it to be. Again, your ship counts, so you may be fine at 80cm, 70cm, 60cm. In most years, almost all 110m ships get through the Rhine Gorge fine.

 

notamermaid

 

 

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1 hour ago, Penland said:

Hi! We are traveling on the Rhine in a couple of weeks (April 2-9) on the Kara ship with Viking. Will the water level be ok then? Thank you!!

Welcome to CC. I mentioned the size of river cruise ships. Viking with the 135m ships tends to go for ship swaps before other companies, but that is a general rule and not carved in stone. The bottleneck is at Kaub, as I mentioned, but it is actually a stretch from near Rüdesheim to Braubach. Kaub gauge is the marker for shipping. When the level gets really low, this stretch naturally expands and can be quite long. In a bad year it has been from Worms to Koblenz. But for now all looks good, Kaub is at 270cm. Your dates are actually a bit too far into the future to give accurate data, the official forecast is only for 36 hours, after that we get a probability modelling. But the modelling puts any scenario well above 150cm and below 350cm so in all likelihood your river cruise will start on 2 April with perfect levels.

 

notamermaid

 

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I will also say that I have been on amawaterways trips on the Rhine/moselle, Danube, Rhine/main and seine and never had any adjustments because of water levels high or low. That certainly not to saying can’t happen, there were a LOT of people on that danube cruise in 2019 who went through low Rhine 2018. But it’s not a perennial problem. 
 

(did have a schedule change on the Rhine/main trip because the river was being dredged after Viking and a cargo ship grounded themselves though). 

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We have an end of July trip sailing on Avalon's Romantic Rhine itinerary.  I've been following this thread since January and find it very informative.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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16 hours ago, CastleCritic said:

But it’s not a perennial problem. 

Indeed it isn't. You can go on several river cruises on the rivers and canals of Europe over the years and never encounter a problem. Or you can be just completely unlucky as you have to deal with the aftermath of an incident, like for you the grounding of the ships on the Rhine. The one thing that can happen that we have not mentioned yet is strikes. Yup, the French were at it again about two weeks ago. The lock times were affected by the people on the French side striking. And they mean business. Some of the locks up there on the Rhine are run by the French authorities. This being a very busy river a backlog of ships waiting to be locked can happen easily and is no fun at all for shipping companies. German report: https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/baden-wuerttemberg/suedbaden/schleuse-marckolsheim-blockiert-100.html

 

notamermaid

 

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