Winter onset in north Germany brings snow, sledging and police controls

Winter onset in north Germany brings snow, sledging and police controls
Tiergarten in Berlin. Photo: DPA
The onset of winter in the northern half of Germany has led to train cancellations, but also given families the chance to escape the mundanity of lockdown.

Cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen enjoyed sunny, snowy weather on Saturday, after a drop in temperatures the previous evening led to snow coating the streets and parks of major northern cities for the first time this winter.

The wintery weather led to children descending en masse on parks in major cities, raising concerns about social distancing during the pandemic.

Police in Hamburg warned that people had not been observing the social distancing rules and intervened to block off parks in the inner city. 

“People have been sledging in a very confined space,” said a police spokesman after the Schanzen park was closed down due to crowding.

In Berlin, one local was spotted doing a round of cross-country skiing in the morning in the central Tiergarten park. The Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column in the city centre park both had a touch of winter magic about them, although the snow began to melt later into the day. 

Police in Berlin also confirmed that they had intervened in some parks where the crowds had become too large.

The snow also wrought havoc on long distance train travel, with ICE high speed trains completely out of service in the northwest of the country. Several car crashes, including a fatal incident were reported on countryside roads.

The south of Germany, meanwhile, which has been freezing in temperatures blow zero for weeks, had some respite on Saturday as the mercury rose back up to 5 or 6 degrees in Munich and other cities.

The quick change in temperature in the south has led weather forecasters to issue a flood warning.


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