Severe flooding was recorded across Slovenia from August 4 – 6 as a storm system brought between 100-300 mm of rain to the country’s northern, western, and central regions over the course of three days. The high rainfall volumes caused rivers throughout the country to burst their banks, triggering flooding in the capital Ljubljana and in multiple towns across the regions of Carinthia (Koroska), Upper Carniola (Gorenjska), Savinja (Savinjska), Central Sava (Zasavska), and Central Slovenia (Osrednjeslovenska).
The worst flooding was reported in parts of northern Carinthia near the border with Austria, where several towns including Ravne Na Koroskem, Prevjale, and Crna na Koroskem were temporarily cut off from the rest of the country after most roadways in and out of the region became completely submerged. Around 4,000 people were also ordered to evacuate from the city of Selve after the nearby Savinja River burst its banks. At least six people are confirmed to have been killed because of the flooding with around 8,000 people still reportedly displaced from Prevalje and the eastern towns of Kot, Hotiza, and Dolnja Bistrica.
Around 16,000 people were also without power during the flood’s peak on August 4 while nationwide transportation disruptions were reported across the country’s highway and railway network because of flood damage. Cleanup efforts are currently underway across the country with EU authorities indicating that Slovenia will receive around €400 million ($439 million) in emergency aid to supplement a €100 million ($110 million) aid package that has already been announced by the Slovenian government.
In addition to Slovenia, heavy rains also impacted the neighbouring Austrian regions of Carinthia and Styria, where landslides and flooding have killed at least one person and forced the evacuation of over 300 people.
Flooding prompts logistics disruptions across Slovenia
The floods have caused widespread logistics and transportation disruptions in northern and central Slovenia. Roadway closures due to landslides were reported along the B69 and B74 highways, and multiple roads were closed, and bridges were destroyed in Celje, Nova Gorica, Kranj, Ljubljana, Maribor, and Murska Sobota. Trucking operations across the country are expected to be hampered while repairs are underway along the country’s major roadways including the A1, A2, A4, and A5 highways.
Railway traffic was also disrupted due to the floods, with Slovenian Railways (SZ) indicating that the double track connecting Litja and Sava was one of the most damaged lines. As the line is part of the corridor connecting Ljublijana to Austria and Hungary, delays to freight operations in the region are likely. At the time of writing, only the left track of this line is back in service as of August 9, with rehabilitation of the full line not likely to finish until August 20 at the earliest. Shipping company Maersk has also reported ongoing interruptions to transport on the Celje-Velenje, Jesenice-Nova Gorica, and Maribor-Prevalje lines.
Severe impacts to manufacturing likely to cause automotive disruptions
The floods in Slovenia have caused about €500 million ($548.3 million) worth of property damage according to initial estimates, with the country’s prime minister indicating that the economic damage from the flood could amount to several billion euros. The worst damage has been recorded in the industrial areas of Koroška and Škofjeloška and areas off the Savinja river. The Chamber of Crafts of Slovenia estimates 3,000 to 3,500 small and medium-sized companies have been affected in the hard-hit areas of Ravne na Koroškem, Črna na Koroškem, Slovenje Gradac, Kamnik, Mozirje, Celje, Laško, and Škofja Loka.
While several companies have reported flooded premises, wet equipment, and destroyed machines, many others still are inaccessible due to power outages, impassable roads and collapsed bridges. Companies have stressed that the recovery of roads and infrastructure needs to be prioritized before the repair of plants and factories is possible.
Although multiple industries will feel the impacts of the floods, the automotive sector will likely face a higher possibility of disruption. The Slovenia Business Development Agency indicates that in 2022, 20% of total Slovenian exports were attributed to automotive components, with most of these exports going to Germany (33%), France (14%) and Italy (7%). In 2022, the country’s automotive exports totalled €4.1 billion ($4.5 billion). Slovenia is similarly a leader in metal processing and machinery, specializing in highly niche products including thermoplastic injection moulding tools for the automotive sector.
The Koroška industrial area, one of the areas with disproportionate levels of flood damage, is home to numerous technology companies and metal and machining companies largely serving the automotive industry. Prominent manufacturers supplying the automotive space have sustained heavy damages.
Apart from the automotive sector, sectors dependent on general machinery and metal processing from Slovenia could experience heightened disruptions. The country is a global leader in industrial knives, premium grade super hardened and resistant steels, and logging winches, with its largest export markets for metal products in Germany (24%), Italy (12%) and Austria (10%).
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