It is Saturday, October 21, 2023, the day after the flood of the century on the Baltic Sea in Schleswig-Holstein. The day on which the extent of the forces that the storm has developed in the past 24 hours becomes visible.
The gale from the east raged against the coast for hours on Friday. It has whipped up the waves and caused the storm surge to swell to a level not seen for over 100 years – as meteorologist Sebastian Wache describes on
had predicted shortly beforehand.
In the port cities and towns on the coast, it is particularly clear what wind and waves can do. Sidewalk slabs weighing tons were pushed up from the promenades, sheet pile walls were washed behind, some dikes were broken. During the night, campsites and vacation home settlements were evacuated in Ostholstein and the Rendsburg-Eckernförde district.
Im Hafen von Schilksee wurden Yachten vom Wasser auf die Stege gehievt, während andere sanken © Ralf Abratis
The town of Maasholm on the Schlei was evacuated, and there were also evacuations in Schleswig and Eckernförde. The day after the storm, boat owners rush to the marinas and are faced with a scene of devastation.
High number of unreported sunk boats expected
In the Olympic port of Schilksee, Philipp Mühlenhardt, Managing Director of Sporthafen Kiel GmbH, inspects the damage together with Gerwin Stöcken, Kiel’s City Councillor for Social Affairs, Housing, Health and Sport. “We have identified 45 sunken yachts so far. But there are probably a few more,” reports Mühlenhardt.
Because only the yachts with the mast still standing are visible. However, several owners had already laid the rig. The number of unreported cases will be considerable. The water in the harbor basin is so murky that there is no visibility. The choppy sea has washed plenty of sediment into the harbor, along with oil and diesel from the sunken yachts. A foul smell rises from the harbor basin, the THW lays out oil booms.
When the forecasts for the easterly storm came in over the past few days, Mühlenhardt cut short his family vacation. He had rushed to Kiel to save what could still be saved with his staff: “We fought for every boat, but at 8 p.m. on Friday evening we had to stop. That’s when it became life-threatening.”
“The last 30 centimeters were too much”
In the meantime, the Baltic Sea wave rolled over the pier, even tearing large stones from the bulwark. The storm continued to rage until after midnight, reaching a maximum of 71 knots at the measuring station at the Kiel lighthouse. In the harbor, jetties were torn up and bollards pushed over. Mooring lines broke, yachts were heaved onto the jetties or pushed under water by the wind and waves.
The water level in Schilksee climbed to 6.89 meters, 5.04 meters is the normal zero here. The actual water level easily exceeded the forecasts, which were repeatedly revised upwards, but peaked at 1.60 meters.