Fact Check: The Highest Flood In German Town Of Bad Schandau Germany Was NOT So Long Ago

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: The Highest Flood In German Town Of Bad Schandau Germany Was NOT So Long Ago Top Flood 2002

Did the highest flood to ever happen in the German town of Bad Schandau happen over a century ago? No, that's not true: The highest flood in Bad Schandau happened on August 16, 2002 -- the flood water rose a few centimeters higher than it had in the Saxon Flood of 1845. A photo of the building with dates and high water levels marking floods over the centuries omits the two highest marks of the town's historic floods.

The claim appears in a post published on Facebook on July 17, 2021 with the caption:

For all those folks blaming "unprecedented" flooding in Germany on global warming, consider this photo, taken in May of this year in Bad Schandau, which has a history to that of the hardest-hit regions. It shows the height of various floods over the years. Note that the largest happened a long time ago.
The Earth is a big place, and some kind of weather-related disaster happens somewhere on it pretty much every blessed day.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 21 18:38:31 2021 UTC)

A June 6, 2007 photo of this building is included in Wikipedia's Creative Commons and appears in an article about the Elbe Floods in 1845. Lead Stories made a comparison image by cropping the Wikipedia image and aligning the flood markings with those pictured in the Facebook post. Merging the two photos to scale so that it is possible to see all the high water markings including the marks from 2002 and 1845. The Facebook photo appears to show two additional marks, added lower on the wall since the 2007 photo was taken, these are 1897 and 2010.


(Source: Lead Stories comparison image from Facebook and Wikipedia Creative Commons screenshots taken on Wed Jul 21 19:14:39 2021 UTC)

The flood of 1845, known as the Saxon Flood, happened after an unusually cold winter with deep accumulated snow and frozen rivers. When the spring thaw came suddenly at the end of March, it resulted in a tremendous flood of the Elbe river in the city of Dresden as well as other river towns such as Bad Schandau. The summertime flood which occurred in August of 2002 was the result of widespread heavy rainfall.

A program by Sachsen Spiegel Extra shows, at about the 19:20 mark on the video timeline, a view from a boat of the first stories of the buildings of Bad Schandau submerged during that 2002 flood.

Although Bad Schandau in Saxony near the border of Czechoslovakia was not one of the regions in western Germany initially hit by floods on July 14 and 15, 2021, the flood catastrophe would grow to include the town when heavy rains fell on Saturday July 17, 2021.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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