Lower Bavaria district declares flood ‘disaster’

A district in Lower Bavaria has declared a natural disaster affecting three towns after heavy rain caused serious flooding, German media reported on Wednesday.

Lower Bavaria district declares flood 'disaster'
A man looks at a submerged car in Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, on Tuesday May 30th. Photo: DPA

“The situation has got dramatically worse in the last few hours. The whole centre of town has been flooded by the [river] Altbach,” Walter Czech, mayor of Triftern bei Pfarrkirchen in the Rottal district, told DPA.

Neighbouring Anzenkirchen was also badly affected by floods.

Triftern, a town of just over 5,000 people 35km south-west of Passau on the Austrian border, was not the only place to be struck by severe flooding.

Leipzig, Saxony's largest city, has also seen high waters block the entrance to the emergency room at the Elisabeth Hospital.

Train traffic between Saxon capital Dresden and the Czech Republic was briefly halted after a mudslide.

And firefighters in Bremen and Hanover were kept busy pumping out flooded cellars overnight as heavy rain swept into low-lying parts of the cities – including the Bremen fire service's own underground gym.

The German Weather Service (DWD) currently has serious weather and storm warnings in place across eastern Bavaria and in a swathe running from the northeast coast, over Hannover and all the way into North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

Large parts of Saxony and Thuringia are also covered by the alerts.

A DWD graphic showing severe weather warnings across Germany. Click for an interactive version. Image: DWD

Schoolkids can't get home

In Bavarian town of Triftern, around 250 schoolchildren cut off from their homes by the water face a night sleeping in the gym.

“Luckily the school building is on a hill,” mayor Czech said.

So far no-one has been hurt in Triftern, he went on, and emergency responders including firefighters and river rescue were on the scene.

A second group of 20 children were stranded on an island during a school boat trip, with one girl being treated for shock and another for hypothermia.

“Everyone who's available”, including firefighters and volunteer aid workers, has been sent to the flood area, police said.

Two helicopters are also being sent to rescue people who have been marooned in their houses in the Triftern area.

Eyewitnesses told broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that bridges and roads had been completely swamped and rivers had broken their banks.

In Passau river gauges stood at high levels on Wednesday afternoon, with the Danube exceeding its first warning level and the Inn just 40 centimetres below its own.

Some streets had to be closed in the city on the Bavarian-Austrian border for fear of flooding.

Baden-Württemberg picks up pieces

News of the flooding in Bavaria comes just as neighbouring Baden-Württemberg is getting to grips with the damage caused by heavy rain and storms on Sunday evening.

In Braunsbach divers were searching underwater for the bodies of people who might have been trapped in their cars by sudden violent floods.

State minister-president Winfried Kretschmann is also expected in the town today to inspect the damage.

Four people have been reported dead in floods since Monday.

Other parts of Germany, including North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, also suffered flooding on Monday and Tuesday.


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Snowfall due at the weekend as winter arrives in Germany

After a cold blast at the end of November, winter in Germany is set to begin with yet more snow, making it the perfect time to dig out a puffer coat and get out to Christmas market.

Snowfall due at the weekend as winter arrives in Germany

German punctuality has struck once again as winter looks set to arrive right on cue this year, with a flurry of snowfall, ice and frosty conditions in several regions of the country.

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), Saxony-Anhalt could see the mercury drop as low as -6C on Friday as snow continues to fall until the afternoon. The Harz mountains will also get a festive dusting of snow, with temperatures ranging from -1 to -3C in the coming days.   

Saturday is set to be overcast in the region with up to 5cm of snowfall, but things could dry up on Sunday as temperatures rise to a nippy 1-3C. The eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia can also expect icy conditions and snow over the weekend.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, snow is also expected at higher altitudes. In eastern Westphalia and in the Sauerland region, there could be light snowfall or sleet, DWD reported on Friday. Drivers and cyclists should exercise caution as roads are likely to become slippery due to fresh snow or freezing rain.

DWD explains that two high-pressure areas are currently causing colder winds to sweep across Germany. The first, which caused snow to fall overnight across central Germany, is gradually heading south towards France – though the second is set to bring another icy spell to the country on Friday evening and into Saturday.

Bavaria will be the first to experience the chill as the high-pressure zone travels across the Alps overnight. 

The southern state is likely to have a soggy start to the weekend, with rain falling at lower altitudes – though more hilly and mountainous areas will see some snow. But as temperatures drop during the night, residents of Bavaria could see as much as 5cm as snow on Saturday morning.

READ ALSO: Surviving winter: 8 tips for enjoying the cold like a true German

The rest of the weekend will likely be marked by uniform grey skies, frost and drizzle, though those lucky enough to live in an Alpine region could see a few precious rays of sunshine too.

The weather will also take a distinctly wintry turn in Berlin and Brandenburg over the weekend, as the cold front sweeps across northeastern Germany on Saturday and towards the Baltic Sea. 

Friday is likely to be mostly chilly and overcast, with occasional rain or sleet and maximum temperatures of 2C. 

In the night, however, southern Brandenburg will start to see some fresh snowfall, which will move up across Berlin and to the north of Brandenburg over the course of Saturday.

Snow falls outside the Reichstag in Berlin

Snow falls outside the Reichstag in Berlin on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Berliners should be sure to wrap up if they’re heading out to enjoy the festive scenes, since the mercury is likely to hover between zero and -2C. 

Will the snow settle? 

Unfortunately the dusting of white is unlikely to stick around long in most places – so make your snow angels while you can. 

Misty or overcast skies will return on Advent Sunday, while occasional drizzle could well turn Saturday’s snow into slush. Hilly and mountainous regions will be the only ones treated to an extra helping of snow.

Meanwhile, Monday is set to get off to a soggy and wet start, with rainfall in most regions and temperatures between 1C and 5C. 

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?