Heavy snow to follow record lows

Parts of Germany on Tuesday experienced the coldest temperatures of the winter so far, with overnight lows dipping to -21 degrees Celsius. But meteorologists are predicting even chillier weather and heavy snowstorms for the coming days.

Heavy snow to follow record lows
Photo: DPA

At least 14 homeless people have died of exposure to the brutal cold this winter, according to an advocacy group. The BAG aid organisation said it had not seen such a catastrophic winter since 25 homeless died in 1996-1997.

Weather service Meteomedia reported unusually frigid temperatures in the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg, registering -21.3 degrees in Ueckermünde and -21 degrees Goldberg. The last years to see temperatures so low were 2006.

Snow and freezing temperatures significantly delayed train traffic on Tuesday in Lower Saxony and Bremen due to frozen junction plates on tracks, a spokesperson for national rail provider Deutsche Bahn said. High speed ICE trains were also cancelled because cars couldn’t be attached due to the extreme temperatures.

See photos of winter’s icy grip on Germany.

Meanwhile dozens of flights at the Munich Airport were cancelled due to heavy snowfall despite non-stop cleanup efforts, a spokesperson said. Snowfall also forced 17 flight delays at the Frankfurt Airport.

Though icebreakers were also out in force, shipping traffic along rivers and canals remained hindered by ice and harbours faced heavy financial losses for their failure to deliver.

Police reported countless accidents due to slippery roads, and workers for the ADAC automobile club said they were overwhelmed with calls to assist with dead car batteries, frozen doors and cracked radiators.

“Right now we have everything outside that has wheels and legs,” an ADAC spokesperson in Hamburg said.

Hospitals there also reported double their normal traffic for broken bones, concussions and contusions thanks to winter weather accidents.

Even wildlife are struggling to survive as the frost persists. A frozen snow crust in many places prevents deer and other animals from finding food, the LJVB hunting association for Brandenburg reported, calling the situation an “emergency” for the animals.

But weather reports do not predict a respite for wildlife, drivers, or emergency workers in the next few days. A low-pressure storm from Scandinavia will bring negative temperatures, high winds, more than five centimetres of snow and freezing rain to northern Germany beginning on Tuesday night, the German Weather Service reported.

Snow will continue in southern Germany through Wednesday and by Thursday up to 20 centimetres of snow may be on the ground.

More of the white stuff can be expected across the country on Thursday and Friday to, the DWD said, with heaviest accumulation in mountainous regions.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast.

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Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.