Croatia’s tourist hotspots hit by storms with hail the size of ‘tennis balls’

Hail the size of “tennis balls” has fallen on the Croatian capital of Zagreb as a dangerous thunderstorm swept through the country.

Red warnings were issued in the capital and Osijek, near the country’s eastern border with Serbia, meaning the storm could cause “possible danger to life”.

Orange thunderstorm alerts warning of the risk of lightning and heavy damage were issued for Rijeka in the north of the country and parts of Slovenia.

Dramatic footage showed buildings with their roofs destroyed after a shower of hail pelted houses across Croatia.

The severe weather led to 30 emergency calls relating to damaged homes, according to local media, while travel chaos ensued after trams were halted due to fallen trees on power lines and roads. Flights from Zagreb airport to Dubrovnik and Stockholm were cancelled, according to flight-tracking tool Radarbox.

In Dugo Selo, about 10 miles outside of Zagreb, roads were flooded after heavy hail, Croatian media reported. Orange thunderstorm warnings remain in place for tourist hotspot Dubrovnik.

Yellow thunderstorm warnings for potential danger have also been issued along the entirety of Croatia’s Adriatic coastline and in parts of Slovenia.

Croatian public broadcaster HRT reported that from Wednesday onwards, the weather will return to summer temperatures with sunny and dry spells across most of the country.

The Adriatic coast will see sunny spells in the second part of the week with a light breeze blowing in from the sea, but it will remain very hot with temperatures of above 30°C.

Elsewhere in Europe, three people were found dead after thunderstorms caused a landslide in the Fontana area of the Maggia valley in the Italian-speaking Ticino state on the southern side of the Swiss Alps.

Campsites along the River Maggia were evacuated, while part of the Visletto road bridge collapsed. The body of a man whose partner had reported him missing was found at a hotel in the Alpine resort of Saas-Grund early on Sunday after he was trapped by severe flooding.

Northern Italy also experienced thunderstorms, flooding and landslides, with firefighters in the northern Piedmont region saying they carried out about 80 rescue operations, evacuating dozens of people.

In the Valle D’Aosta region, several villages were cut off by flooding, while a family of three were rescued after rising waters left them stuck in their car between Montanaro and San Benigno Canavese, firefighters said.

Further south, soaring temperatures and strong winds have sparked wildfires in Greece as firefighters battled wildfires on the eastern Aegean islands of Chios and Kos that left five people injured.

Greece’s prime minister warned of a dangerous summer ahead and said the public’s help was essential in limiting the impact of wildfires.

Another fire broke out further south in the Aegean, on the resort island of Kos, and by late Monday had forced the evacuation of several people, including tourists from hotels, as a precaution.

In total, Greece saw 52 wildfires breaking out in the previous 24-hour period, with temperatures are expected to rise further on Tuesday, creating further risk of wildfires.

Flames rise next to a football stadium as a wildfire burns in Stamata, near Athens, Greece, June 30, 2024. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis
Flames rise next to a football stadium as a wildfire burns in Stamata, near Athens, Greece on Sunday (Photo: Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters)

The blazes come a day after the fire department managed to tame two large forest fires near Athens that had been fanned by strong winds, with residents and holidaymakers evacuated from their homes.

Over the weekend in Turkey, holidaymakers were warned they may have to move because of a wildfire after temperatures surged to above 40°C due to a severe heatwave.

The fires have torn through Turkey’s southeast region, hitting Kusadasi, a beach resort town on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Helicopters and planes were deployed over the Diyarbakir and Mardin provinces in an attempt to extinguish the flames while hotels in some areas have also been evacuated.

According to Greenpeace, extreme weather is happening more often, and getting more severe due to climate crisis and the earth’s rapidly increasing carbon emissions.