Roads, railways and homes flooded as heavy rain hits Germany

Torrential rain mixed with strong winds is causing major problems in southern and western Germany.

Roads, railways and homes flooded as heavy rain hits Germany
Water floods the village of Aach in Rhineland-Palatinate on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

In Bavaria, hurricane-like gusts and heavy continuous rain are disrupting the public transport system.

Munich's S-Bahn services on lines S1 and S2 were partially closed on Tuesday morning due to trees falling onto the overhead lines, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said.

West of Augsburg, two rivers burst their banks and flooded streets. According to police, seven people have been injured in the stormy weather since Monday lunchtime.

The German Weather Service (DWD) had issued severe weather warnings for southern parts of Germany on Monday night.

Rescue operations

Heavy rain has also triggered numerous rescue operations in the south-west of the country.

The town centre of the community of Aach near Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, was flooded during the night.

In the Oberemmel district of Konzer a river overflowed its banks, which resulted in people becoming trapped in their homes due to the build up of water. The fire and rescue service managed to free the affected residents in the middle of the night.

In several places across the district, emergency services had to shut off flooded roads. A total of 440 forces were deployed. Meanwhile, the railway line between Perl and Trier was closed on Tuesday morning.

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Deutsche Bahn issued a tweet urging customers to check for delays and cancellations due to the stormy weather.

Heavy rain in Munich on Tuesday morning. Photo: DPA

After heavy rainfall, water levels along the Moselle river are rising sharply. Early on Tuesday morning, the water level in Trier was over 8.40 meters according to the Flood Reporting Centre, and it was still rising. The normal water level is about 3.25 meters.

It's due to heavy rainfall coming from the Vosges mountains in France, where the Moselle river begins. The Moselle flows into the Rhine near Koblenz.

In Saarbrücken, the capital of Saarland, police closed the city highway early this morning.

Fallen trees in Baden-Württemberg

Hurricane-like gusts and heavy continuous rain also led to numerous police and fire department operations in parts of Baden-Württemberg.

In Stetten am kalten Markt near Sigmaringen, a tree fell on an apartment building, punctured the roof and damaged three cars. According to police, the damage amounts to around €60,000. No injuries have been reported.

Fire and rescue services as well as police were called out to operations in Freiburg and the surrounding area dozens of times. 

On Tuesday police tweeted: “The storm is keeping emergency services on tenterhooks. Throughout the area, fallen trees are causing danger in road traffic – we ask for special caution and consideration. Please avoid the dams of major rivers in our area.”

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Rain to continue

In the Waldshut district in the south of the state, the emergency services were also busy. Strong winds damaged houses and toppled trees as well as fences. 

Police in Karlsruhe reported that trees had fallen, while smaller streets and cellars were flooded. In Stuttgart, a tree fell on a car. According to police, there have been no injuries.

Until at least Tuesday lunchtime, the DWD expected heavy continuous rain in the region. In the Black Forest, around 120 liters per square meter and 150 liters in congested areas is said to have fallen within 72 hours.

The DWD also warned against stormy gusts with speeds between 50 and 70 kilometres per hour.

There's also been some snow.

Snow in Thuringia on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

In the Ore Mountains and the Thuringian Forest area, snow fell during the night. In mountainous regions in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, the snow is also expected to stay on the ground, according to the DWD.

“Care is also required on the roads there,” said the DWD.

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EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

The popularity of electric scooters in Germany has exploded in the last few years, but many people still aren't sure what the rules for driving them are. We break them down.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

Germany is currently the world’s second-largest market for e-scooter rental after the USA, which might explain why you have the feeling that you’re seeing the electric vehicles everywhere these days, at least in cities. 

According to a recent survey by ADAC,15 percent of people in Germany aged 16 and over regularly use e-scooters. Of these, 45 percent own their own scooter, while 55 percent rent the vehicles from sharing services.

Here are the rules for driving an e-scooter that you need to know.

Who can drive an e-scooter?

Anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric scooter and you don’t need to have a driving license to use one. However, many of the traffic rules for motorists also apply to e-scooter riders, and misbehaving on a scooter could end up costing you points on your driving license or even getting you a driving ban.

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No. Only one person is allowed to ride a scooter and if you are caught riding in two, you will get a €10 fine.

Although it might be fun, riding side by side on two scooters is also not allowed and can be punished with a fine of between €15 and €30. Instead, you and your friends have to ride in single file.

Where can you ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are principally allowed on bike paths and in bike lanes and you can only drive them on the road if there is no bike lane available. If you do drive on the road, you must keep as far to the right as possible and you are not allowed to ride in bus lanes.

It’s also forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the motorway – doing so will get you a €20 fine. 

Riding an e-scooter on the pavement, in pedestrian-only zones, or in one-way streets against the direction of traffic is also not allowed and can land you a fine of between €15 and €30.

However, e-scooters are allowed on one-way or no-entry roads which have a “cyclists free” sign.

A no-entry sign with a “cyclists free” sign underneath. This sign also applies to e-scooters. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

Which traffic light rules apply to electric scooters?

E-scooter riders have to abide by traffic lights just like motorists, and the fine for ignoring a red light on an e-scooter is between €60 and €180.

However, if there is also a traffic light for bicycles, e-scooter riders can follow this one instead.

Is there an alcohol limit for electric scooters?

Yes, the same alcohol limits for motorists apply to electric scooter riders.

This means that anyone who drives with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 to 1.09 is liable for a fine of €500, a 1-month driving ban and 2 points on their driving license.

It’s a criminal offence to ride an electric scooter with a blood alcohol concentration of at more than 1.1, as is causing an accident with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3.

Under 21s must be completely alcohol free – with a blood alcohol level of 0.0 – to ride an e-scooter.

Where can e-scooters be parked?

E-scooters can be parked at the roadside, on the pavement and in pedestrian zones with designated e-scooter parking areas. However, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that they don’t obstruct or endanger pedestrians or other road users. 

Parked e-scooters in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Which rules are there for e-scooter owners?

If you’ve upgraded from renting to owning your own scooter, there are certain requirements you have to be aware of. 

Firstly, it’s mandatory to have liability insurance and a special sticker (similar to a license plate) stuck to the scooter to show that it is insured.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: Haftpflichtversicherung

E-scooter owners also have to make sure that they have two independently working brakes and lights. 

Which other rules should I be aware of?

As with driving a car or cycling, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone while riding an e-scooter (which is pretty challenging anyway). If you’re caught doing so, you’ll get a €100 fine and a point on your driving license. 

It’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, though it is recommended.