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WEATHER

Hundreds of police calls after heavy thunderstorms hit western Germany

As a strong storm bringing along with it lightning and hail swept through the Lower Rhine and Eifel region early in the morning on Monday, hundreds of people alerted the emergency services.

Hundreds of police calls after heavy thunderstorms hit western Germany
A car on a flooded street in Aachen. Photo: DPA

The storm hit the Eifel mountain range in the west of the country as well as neighbouring regions in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The city of Aachen in NRW was particularly hard hit.

Emergency services were called out to flooded streets, flooded cellars and roofs damaged by hail and wind, a police spokesman said.

During the storm, which lasted about 70 minutes, the Aachen police received 320 emergency calls. According to initial information from the authorities, there have been no reports of injuries.

In the NRW town of Stolberg near Aachen, the Europa Tunnel was closed because “it was completely full of water,” a spokesman said. Police expect the tunnel to open up again later in the day on Monday. Meanwhile mud made other roads in the town impassable.

A police spokesman in Trier said that due to trees falling on federal highway 418, the road was closed and would not open again at least until late on Monday morning.

Meanwhile in the municipality of Zemmer in Rhineland-Palatinate, the power went out because lightning destroyed a high-voltage line.

There were also local storms in and around Lower Saxony. In the towns of Haren and Aurich, fire brigades were called out to tend to fires which started due to lightning strikes.

Western Lower Saxony in particular saw heavy rain and hail; in the region wind gusts reached speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour.

The storm had come from the south of France, Luxembourg and Belgium and had characteristics of a typical summer storm.

Hail and heavy rain are “what typically constitutes thunderstorms in summer,” said a meteorologist from the German Weather Service (DWD).

The west and northwest of the country could still see more lightning and thunder before Monday afternoon, according to the DWD.

 

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WEATHER

‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

After seeing the hottest January so far since records began, meteorologists in Germany are now predicting a warmer-than-usual February, which could bring about problems for winter sports resorts.

‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

Germany is getting hotter. Every decade since the sixties has been warmer than the previous one and the pace is continuing to increase, the German Weather Service (DWD) said in its final climate assessment for the past year released on Monday.

“We are now experiencing hot spells and intensities that we would actually not have expected from climate models for a few decades,” said Andreas Becker, head of the DWD’s climate monitoring department.

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

“Since the year 1881, we now have an increase in the annual mean temperature in Germany of 1.7 C,” Becker said. He added that this increase can only be explained by man-made climate change.

The first half of January – usually considered to be the height of winter – was warmer than ever before this year, at 8.2 C above average. 

But while temperatures are expected to sink and bring some frost and snowfall later this week, meteorologist Dominik Jung from wetter.net, has said that there is no real prospect of a severe cold spell or a deep onset of winter. Meteorologist Alban Burster from wetter.com, meanwhile, said that he expects January to remain mainly foggy and wet.

Looking ahead to February, it seems likely that there will be no change in the warming trend. Meteorologist Jung said that he expects the second month of 2023 to be “almost a kind of ‘heat’ February” – at an average of two to three degrees warmer than the climate average.

Good news for some

For the winter sports season, the warm temperatures are  “a disaster”, Jung said.

READ ALSO: How heatwaves in Germany have led to thousands of deaths

The meagre snowfall is bad news for sports enthusiasts and ski lift operators, many of which have had to resort to using artificial snow – at a significant cost. 

However, for those hoping to save on their home heating bills, the warm winter months, for now, are good news. 

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