Germany grapples with temperatures as low as -26.7C

Bitter cold with extreme lows - the winter weather continues to have Germany in its grip. But road conditions improved Wednesday morning amid lighter snowfall.

Germany grapples with temperatures as low as -26.7C
Snow in Jena, Thuringia on Wednesday morning. Photo: DPA

On early Wednesday morning, the eastern state of Thuringia recorded the coldest temperatures in all of Germany, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

Mühlhausen clocked in the coldest temperature with -26.7C, followed by Olbersleben with -26C and Dachwig with -25.7C.

According to the DWD, however, these temperatures are still a long way from the coldest temperatures ever measured in Germany.

The record is held by Hüll, Bavaria, which recorded a temperature of -37.8C in 1929.

The following graph from DWD shows the 'cold spots' in Thuringia.

How is the weather affecting train and car traffic?

As of Wednesday morning, there were still problems with train traffic in Germany. 

“Today and in the next few days travellers in many parts of the country must expect significant restrictions in local and long-distance traffic due to the weather,” said a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn.

However, while Monday and Tuesday brought traffic chaos to German Autobahns, the situation appeared to have calmed down slightly around the country on Wednesday morning.

Cars on snowy roads in Stuttgart on Wednesday morning. Photo: DPA

According to a police spokesman, traffic on the A2 near Bielefeld – which was hit particularly hard by the storms – was moving on Wednesday morning. 

At present, however, there was still a “latent danger situation” due to trucks parked on the hard shoulder because the drivers had to observe their rest periods – and were asleep.

READ ALSO: Hundreds of drivers spend night on Autobahn as snow chaos continues

In other states, police stations reported isolated accidents due to slippery black ice on the roads.

In Schleswig-Holstein, the A7 in the Rendsburg-Eckernförde district was temporarily completely closed in the direction of Hamburg after a snowplow caught fire. 

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the police did not have any accident reports for the coastal regions. In Thuringia, a police spokesman also expressed relief that the situation had improved.

“We are happy that it has not snowed again,” he said.

Slightly warmer temperatures

Although there is slated to be less snowfall for the remainder of the week around Germany, temperatures will remain icy cold.

“The weather front ‘Gisela’ means that northern and northeastern Germany will experience widespread frosty temperatures during the day and at night for severe frosts around -20 degrees,” explained DWD meteorologist Jens Bonewitz. 

In Berlin daytime temperatures from Thursday through the weekend, will hover around -1C or -2C – an improvement from earlier this week when they dropped to as low as -10C.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is facing extreme winter weather this month

From Thursday onwards – unlike earlier this week – the cold air will also drift to the south of Germany. Between Thursday and Saturday, daytime temperatures in Munich will range between -6C and -3C.

They reached a high of 12C last week as the south of Germany enjoyed mild Mercury readings. 

Traffic in Bielefeld, where temperatures were -10C, on Wednesday morning. Photo: DPA

‘Calming down’

German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CDU) said he expected more disruptions due to the extreme winter weather. 

“In many regions of Germany, the situation is gradually beginning to calm down. However, it may take some time before everything returns to its normal course,” he said. “Impairments remain in some stretches and areas.”

Inland shipping is also affected by the winter weather: From Wednesday evening, the Mittelland Canal – the largest in artificial waterway in Germany, and the Elbe-Seitenkanal are slated to remain closed.

Meanwhile, aid organisations stepped up their efforts to help the homeless, providing them in many places with warm food, drinks, clothing, sleeping clothes and hygiene items. 

The coronavirus pandemic is further exacerbating the situation for those in need, according to Diakonie, the welfare organization of the Protestant churches.

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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.