Articles | Volume 23, issue 2
Research article
 | Highlight paper
03 Mar 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 03 Mar 2023

Performance of the flood warning system in Germany in July 2021 – insights from affected residents

Annegret H. Thieken, Philip Bubeck, Anna Heidenreich, Jennifer von Keyserlingk, Lisa Dillenardt, and Antje Otto

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Cited articles

Apel, H., Vorogushyn, S., and Merz, B.: Brief communication: Impact forecasting could substantially improve the emergency management of deadly floods: case study July 2021 floods in Germany, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 3005–3014,, 2022. 
BBK – Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe: MoWaS-Meldung konnte nur verspätet zugestellt werden, (last access: 22 December 2022), 2020 (in German). 
BBK – Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe: Warn-App NINA erreicht Meilenstein ohne Probleme, (last access: 22 December 2022), 2021 (in German). 
Cools, J., Innocenti, D., and O'Briena, S.: Lessons from flood early warning systems, Environ. Sci. Policy, 58, 117–122, 2016. 
Cornwall, W.: Europe's deadly floods leave scientists stunned, Science, 373, 372–373,, 2021. 
Executive editor
This paper examines the warning deficits in conjunction with the major flooding event in Germany of summer 2021. The event caused many fatalities and enormous damage. The warning procedures proved to be insufficient, and after investigations it was decided to install a cell broadcast system in Germany, which is already in place today. The deeper investigations on the warning perceptions and the influencing factors is of major interest to readers beyond the scientific community.
Short summary
In July 2021 intense rainfall caused devastating floods in western Europe with 184 fatalities in the German federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NW) and Rhineland-Palatinate (RP), calling their warning system into question. An online survey revealed that 35 % of respondents from NW and 29 % from RP did not receive any warning. Many of those who were warned did not expect severe flooding, nor did they know how to react. The study provides entry points for improving Germany's warning system.
Final-revised paper