Rain shortage worries farmers

Austrian farmers have raised the alarm over a water shortage following an entire month in which some regions have seen no rain at all.

Particularly badly hit has been the agricultural region of Burgenland where it is estimated the first rain will now fall on 1 April – meaning that the region will have gone the entire month without rain.

The South East of the province has effectively been experiencing a dry spell since the end of October. Weather experts said that such a dry period usually only occurs once every 15 years.

Carinthia has also been hit receiving only about five per cent of its average rainfall.

The fire service has been warning people to be on particular alert as there is an extreme risk of forest fires or grass fires because of the long dry spell.

They urged anybody who sees smoke that looks suspicious to raise the alert straightaway – and said barbecues in the open in public places were currently forbidden.