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Rare "Hunger Stones" sighting shows severity of drought across Europe

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
8/28/2018, 12:44:58 PM

It has been a hot, dry summer across much of northern and western Europe, and a rare sighting of "Hunger Stones" shows just how big of a problem the current drought could be.

Over the centuries, droughts of various intensities have caused calamity across Europe resulting in food shortages and starvation.

During these dire times, people would carve words and dates into rocks along the river that were not normally visible due to higher water levels.

Hunger Stones AP 6/28

On of the so called "hunger stones" exposed by the low level of water in the Elbe river is seen in Decin, Czech Republic, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. The low level of water caused by the recent drought has exposed some stones at the river bed whose appearances in history meant for people to get ready for troubles. They are known as the "hunger stones" and they were chosen in the past to record low water levels. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

More than 12 of these large stone markers have become visible along the Elbe River which flows from Hungary into Germany. Some of the markings on the stones date back as far as 1616 showing more than 400 years of history.

The recent dry summer has once again unearthed these relics from the past, and some have ominous warnings.

One of the inscriptions was translated to say “When you see me, weep.” Another talked about a bad harvest, lack of food, high prices and hunger for poor people, according to the

Impacts have already been felt from the current drought as wildfires have raged across parts of Sweden and Germany in recent weeks.

Food prices are rising and are expected to rise further in the coming months as harvest outlooks have been lowered across much of the European Union.

Drier-than-normal weather is expected to continue across northern and western Europe the next several weeks, and widespread beneficial rainfall is not expected until at least late October or early this winter.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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