Frankfurt airport grinds to a halt as storms hit Germany

Passengers have been left stranded as Frankfurt airport suspended all flights due to an approaching storm on Thursday, while the North Sea coastline is bracing itself for a potential hurricane.

Frankfurt airport grinds to a halt as storms hit Germany
Storms over Frankfurt saw flights grind to a halt at the city's airport on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt airport ground to a halt for a second time in a week on Thursday, as an approaching storm front forced authorities to suspend all flights. 

All take-offs and landings were briefly suspended  on Thursday afternoon due to storms sweeping over Germany from the West.

Some planes stayed in the air until the storm had passed, a spokesperson for airport authorities said, adding that this was normal procedure in such weather conditions.

Activity on the ground was suspended due to the danger of lightning strikes on the airfield.

With the threat of flight cancellations looming over many passengers, Lufthansa moved swiftly to book up 3,000 hotel rooms. The airline estimated that around 40 flights and 6,000 passengers could be affected by the storms.

The Frankfurt fire service have also warned of severe winds in forest and parkland near and in the city.

The storm front which has been building over northern France could build into a hurricane which would reach Germany by Friday morning, Bild reported, with some models predicting winds of up to 150 km/h.

Meteorologist Dominik Jung from told Bild that, even under more moderate predictions, the North Sea coast could see winds of 120 or 130 km/h, which would be classified as a hurricane on the Beaufort scale.

Storms are also set to hit the rest of the country, with the German Weather Service issuing warnings for North-Rhine Westphalia on Thursday.

“Streets could become flooded”, a DWD spokesperson said in Essen, and also warned of falling trees, hail and heavy rains.

Showers are predicted for the north and northwest at the weekend, as the long heatwave begins to abate in the coming days. While highs of 30 degrees will still be reached, the DWD said, there will not be another extended heatwave this summer.

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‘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, has said that there is no real prospect of a severe cold spell or a deep onset of winter. Meteorologist Alban Burster from, 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.