Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Floods in the Netherlands

This is a chronological list of floods that have occurred in the Netherlands, until 1500 most parts of the Netherlands were in Frisia.

*   838 December 26: A large part of the northwest of the Netherlands (in that time the land belonged to Frisia - now called Friesland) was flooded by a storm. Lack of good dikes was an important cause of this flood disaster. Bishop Prudentius of Troyes describes this flood; he said there were 2437 victims. This flood is also described in the Annales Xantenses.
*   1014 September 28: for the first time the partially closed coast line of the Netherlands was breached. Walcheren suffered a particularly large amount of damage. It took years before people managed to get their lives back on track. The chronicle of the Quedlinburg abbey in Saxony reports that thousands of people died.
*   1042 November 2: flood mentioned in Annales Blandiniensis (Ghent), probably only affecting the Flemish coast and in particular the region of the Yser mouth.
*   1134: The Zwin opens as a channel connecting Bruges with the North Sea.
*   1163: The Netherlands experienced several floods this year. This caused dike breaches along the Maas. As a result the mouth of the Oude Rijn at Katwijk, which was already almost entirely silted up, was entirely closed by sediment carried around by the flood.
*   1170: First All Saints' flood (Allerheiligenvloed). Large parts of the north of the Netherlands and the Zuiderzee region were inundated. A channel from the North Sea was opened into the fresh water Lake Flavo (Almere lake), and it became the salt water Zuiderzee. This flood marked the beginning and spread of the North Sea, Zuiderzee and Waddenzee. Two factors causing this sea enlargement were important: first was the sea area increase, second the presence of large peat areas, which were easily washed away.
*   1196: St. Nicholas' FloodDutch text (Sint-Nicolaasvloed). Large parts of the north of the Netherlands and the Zuiderzee region were inundated. Where the storm flood of 1170 made a beginning, this storm worsened it, washing away large peat areas. The result of this storm was destruction of peat areas in West Friesland and enlarging the Waddenzee and the Almere which became the Zuiderzee.
*   1212: Noord-Holland suffered a large flood with approximately 60,000 victims.
*   1214: Storm flood affecting all parts of the Netherlands. Much erosion of peat areas.
*   1219 January 16: St. Marcellus' Flood (Sint-Marcellusvloed). Large parts of the north of the Netherlands and the Zuiderzee region were inundated, killing an estimated 36000 people. This was the 4th large flood in 50 years. This had enormous consequences on the development of the two large inner seas in the Netherlands, the Zuiderzee and the Waddenzee.
*   1248 20 November, 28 December, and 4 February 1249: The coastal dunes were breached (likely at Callantsoog), flooding parts of North Holland. Also flooding occurred in Friesland and Groningen.
*   1277: A flood drowned the Reiderland: see Drowned villages in Groningen province.
*   1280: Large parts of the north of the Netherlands were inundated. This flood created the Lauwerszee.
*   1282: A storm broke through the coastal dunes around Texel and let sea water flood into what is now the Waddenzee and IJsselmeer.
*   1287 December 14: St. Lucia's flood.
*   1362: Grote Mandrenke strikes in January, causing the "Great Drowning of Men." Hurricane-force winds drove enormous waves atop an incredible storm surge that carved a huge inland sea into the Netherlands, killing at least 25,000 inhabitants. The salt sea swallowed sixty parishes in the Danish diocese of the bishops of Slesvig. This storm also demolished much infrastructure in England.
*   1404: First St. Elizabeth's Flood. See St. Elizabeth's flood (1404).
*   1421 November 18: Second St. Elisabeth's Flood. See St. Elizabeth's flood (1421).
*   1530: St. Felix's Flood (Sint-Felixvloed).
*   1570 November 1: Second All Saints' flood (Allerheiligenvloed).
*   1675: This affected mainly the north of the Netherlands. It flooded part of Terschelling; the surroundings of Stavoren and Hindeloopen; the Mastenbroek by Kampen; the area between Schagen and Den Helder; Noord-Holland east of Alkmaar; the surroundings of Amsterdam; a very large area around the Haarlemmermeer.
*   1703 December 7 to 9 (or according to the old English calendar which still applied in 1703, 27 November): Great Storm of 1703. This storm caused a flood killing thousands of victims. There are no wind measurements available, but a wealth of reports and diaries make it clear that this storm was extremely serious. The storm reached its peak in the night and led to enormous damage and numerous dike breaches. It was heaviest in an area of approximately 500 kilometres wide in Wales, central and southern England, the North Sea, the Low Countries, and the north of Germany. At many places there was talk of a high storm surge. Seamen reported tornadoes. Other sources wrote about a terrible storm and these well agree with each other. The air was full of lightning. The English journalist and writer Daniel Defoe (the writer of Robinson Crusoe) wrote concerning the "most terrible storm which the world ever saw". The storm was according to Defoe so dreadful that there was no pen to describe it. There had already been a storm for two weeks, but this was the peak. The south of Friesland was flooded from several dike breaches. A Zeelandish captain wrote in a letter to the admiralty of Zeeland that the storm could not be withstood. The Dutch fleet was hit hard, but the British fleet bore the heaviest blows. Dozens of war ships sailed to the English coasts where thousands of victims died. Meteorologists have tried to reconstruct the chart of this storm. Above Scandinavia the air pressure was high at the beginning of December 1703, but in the Bay of Biscay south west of the United Kingdom there were two depressions. The first depression went up the North Sea, the second went to Scotland. The venom, however, was in a new block which appeared at Ireland. This increasingly drew in strong activity around the middle and from Britain further to the east. The storm blew on the south side of the depression where the south of Britain had a hurricane, wind strength 12. The barometers plummeted dramatically: according to calculations the air pressure must have decreased to 950 millibars, a rare low for Britain. A powerful anticyclone which came immediately ensured enormous air pressure differences, as a result of which it blew terribly this way.
*   1717 December 24/25 night: Christmas flood (Kerstvloed): see Christmas flood 1717.
*   1820 January 23: This flood inundated large parts of the Alblasserwaard, after a number of dike breaches. Also the lock between the Linge and the canal from Steenenhoek to Gorinchem succumbed on 26 January during the events of this calamity. An area of approximately 1300 km² came under water during this calamity.
*   1825 February 3 to 5: The provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Overijssel were flooded through serious dike breaks, as a result of which more than 800 people lost their lives. At 17 February 1825 the government set up a relief commission to provide government assistance for the flood disaster. Accounts of this commission are kept in the national archives in Den Haag. In memory of this flood, the book Gedenkboek van Neerlands watersnood in februari 1825 ("Memorial Book of the Dutch Flood Disaster of February 1825") was published.
*   1836: Two hurricane-driven floods by the Haarlemmermeer lake: One in November reached the gates of Amsterdam. One on Christmas Day flooded Leyden. As a result, in May 1840 men started to drain and reclaim the Haarlemmermeer.
*   1916 January 13 and 14: Flood disaster around the Zuiderzee. At dozens of places the dikes broke. Afterwards work started on the Zuiderzeewerken and the establishment of the storm flood service.
*   1953 January 31/February 1 night: See North Sea flood of 1953.

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