Krakow holds its breath

Flooding is nothing new to Krakow. In the short time I’ve been living here the Vistula has threatened to burst its fortified banks three times, but this is the worst I’ve seen. The emergency barriers are in place and the churning coffee-coloured water is coming perilously close to testing them. The river has risen at least a meter since yesterday (Monday), and it was higher than I’ve seen it even then. Another couple of days of this rain and it’s going to get very messy indeed.

I took a, very soggy, walk along the river this evening to bring our readers the latest images.

The new pedestrian bridge over the Vistula under construction on the north bank of the river (about two weeks ago)

The bridge today. There is a very real risk of the temporary stands supporting it underneath being washed away, tipping the whole thing into the main channel.

Attempts to save the bridge by building an upstream breakwater to divert the force of the flood.

Piłsudskiego Bridge as it usually looks

Piłsudskiego Bridge today and several Krakowians engaged in the new sport of flood watching.

Walking along the raised boulevard on the north bank you are usually
3 m above the water; today it surges past just below your feet.

Metal barriers are in place stopping up the access gaps in the wall that runs along the highest point of the bank. I’ve never seen these in use before.

Dębnicki Bridge as it usually looks

Dębnicki Bridge today: closed to traffic and just barely above water.

Grunwaldski Bridge and more flood watchers

Sandbags ready and waiting

Keeping watch

Some more dramatic images from Cześć z Krakowa!

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31 thoughts on “Krakow holds its breath

  1. Beth Kopec says:

    Great pictures! Hold on Krakow!

  2. Tomasz says:

    It’s been raining for a week or so here in Warsaw too, thankfully the drains are coping well so far. Gotta see how Vistula looks today.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Watch out for sinkholes and flash floods! Hope your rains dry up soon!

  4. scatts says:

    Good stuff. Funny, I was going to mail you yesterday to ask about a flood story…no need. I was also going to mail you the shots I have of the new pedestrian bridge….no need again! Having seen the pedestrian bridge just as in your first shot it really highlights the extent of the problem.

    Those flood watchers must have a greater faith in Polish bridge builders than do I. Dębnicki bridge must be under a great deal of strain with the water hitting the slab side beam, no wonder they closed it.

    We live very close to the Wisła but a lot further north than you. I seem to remember it takes 8 or 12 hours for the water to get up here so the Wisła must be pretty high today. Where does one buy sandbags??!!

  5. Grze$ko says:

    I took a walk on the other side of the river having arrived from London to find Krakow quite soggy indeed.

    I hope you don’t mind if i post a link here. If you do, feel free to remove it.
    You can have a look here:

  6. island1 says:

    My thoughts exactly. I decided I didn’t need a shot from the bridge so badly that I was willing to risk taking part in a spectacular natural disaster.

    I’m amazed the pedestrian bridge has survived this long, it’s just sitting on scaffold towers.

  7. island1 says:

    I don’t mind at all, in fact I just added your link to the main post.

    Great stuff. Looks like we visited some of the same spots.

  8. Grze$ko says:

    Thanks, I am honoured.

  9. […] upon the annual spring flood in Poland again submerging tracts of the country, and Polandian posts pictures from Kraków, the country's second city, illustrating the […]

  10. Decoy says:

    The flood watchers intrigued me particularly. I had seen a fair few pictures with groups of people huddled under umbrellas on the riverside or near bridges.

    Are they a kind of sadist waiting for the river to sweep away a boat or two? Or maybe they wanted the thrill of the (brown-) water rapids flowing by, without getting into a canoe?

    Thankfully the rainfall levels have eased and things are steadying. It’s possible that there will be further rain over the coming days, but hopefully the peak has been reached.

  11. island1 says:

    Human nature. We’re irresistibly drawn to disasters or potential disasters. I certainly was.

  12. OllyEast says:

    How are things out there now? I came back from visiting friends in Rzeszow on Wednesday morning, and was quite a bit of flooding on the way to Jasoinka airport. My feelings are with my Polish friends and it is hard sat here at work looking at all the pictures and feeling a little helpless, I hope the worst is over, and the sun will soon be back.

  13. island1 says:

    The level of the river has dropped by a few centimetres in Krakow. Hopefully it will continue to do so. Several other towns and cities have been less lucky or, more to the point, have less effective flood protection.

  14. OllyEast says:

    That’s a relief, was getting worried about Dębnicki bridge. Fingers crossed the levels continue to drop.

  15. scatts says:

    No thank you!!!

  16. scatts says:

    Unless you live in a cave you’ll know Warsaw is now under serious threat. Depends who you listen to as to just how bad it will be and when. Some say 1997/2001 were bad and this will be the same, others say this will be worse and nothing like this has been seen since 1850ish!

    The final height ranges from 730cm to 800cm and the timing of this looks to have moved from 21:00 this evening to 06:00 tomorrow morning. Surely they can forecast better than that??!! The bloody water is meandering up from Krakow not beaming down from Mars! Last news was that the water was at a level of around 645 and I reckon we’ve got about 150-200cm leeway before we’re flooded so might be close. I’m encouraged by the fact that actual levels seem to be lower than predictions but worried by all this C19th nonsense.

    Thanks to paranoid pressure from babcia, Zosia has been evacuated along with all important documents to her place. M & I are still here keeping an eye on the water level. This involves leaving our “estate” by the back gate, walking along the path towards Młociny park (which is on a tall raised bank that affords some protection for us) and then turning right onto a small path that leads downhill towards the river. After perhaps 100m down this path is the level the water has reached so far. I checked at 19:30 and again at 21:10 and it hadn’t risen much at all. We’ve got fireman and police patrolling and also keeping an eye on the water level.

    It seems certain that large parts of Warsaw – zoo and Marienstadt – Wilanów, Łomianki and others will be flooded before we are as although we are close to the river we are at a higher elevation and water is always looking for the lowest point. If those places flood then one assumes it might even take some pressure off us?

    I’d write more but I need to pop down the path again for my hourly inspection of how far it has risen since 21:10!!

  17. Steven says:

    I was married during that huge flood in 97, in Wroctaw. They where piling up sand bags all around us as we stood by candlelight and married. I,ll never forget that day. The entire population came out to save our city with sand bags. You gave not witnessed Polish solidarity and patriotizm until you have seen a flood threaten one of thier cities. Changed my entire attitude and opinion about Poles.

  18. scatts says:

    It is still hard to call here by the banks of the Wisła. I was hoping to get up this morning and hear that the 06:00 prediction was correct and that we were still dry, well, we’re still dry but predictions run all the way out to 22:00 tonight so again I’m not sure what to believe.

    Water has steadily risen and has now reached the lower side of the “dam” separating us from the water. I think we can afford between another 1-2m raise before we’ve got a serious problem, assuming the dam holds the water back. It is not flowing at all next to us, just sort of lying there so that should help. They say it is now at 732cm and won’t go above 780cm so if they are right it will be close but not a problem but if it rises all the way ’till 22:00??

  19. OllyEast says:

    Obviously this whole website would not exist was it not for our love of the Poles, and I am part of the many that has sadly loved and lost an amazing Polish woman. The crazy thing is that I am now realizing that I fell in love with the country just as much as I did her (don’t tell her if you see her;)) As I have said to my Polish friends, Poland is Polish, and a very proud country, England is multicultural and I think losing this sense of pride. I love the diversity but am not so sure what is English anymore, and this is fuelling my ambitions to maybe move to Polska! Wish I was there to help….

  20. OllyEast says:

    Fingers crossed it doesn’t peak Scatts, am watching the web cam link above. Also can’t believe how this is not national news, don’t think I have seen anything on UK news about the floods in Poland?

  21. OllyEast says:

    This link has stopped working, has it gone bad?

  22. island1 says:

    Definitely related, but then they all are.

  23. guest says:

    cam is working

  24. Ian says:

    I was in Cologne (Koln) at the end of March and saw this photo, Poland has got off quite lightly in comparison!

    and the worst

  25. PMK says:


    All I can say is, stay safe and stay dry.

  26. YouNxt says:

    Hey Guys,
    Good photos. I’m looking for pix to use for a flood post I’d like to run. Wondering if you would be okay with me using some of yours. I’d credit back to the site of course. Let m eknow and keep up the great work.

  27. island1 says:

    Oops, missed this. Yes, help yourself.

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