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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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.