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WEATHER

Snow chaos continues in Germany amid temperatures as low as -20C

Arctic polar air continues to cause problems for many people in Germany, as temperatures stayed as low as -20C.

Snow chaos continues in Germany amid temperatures as low as -20C
An icy road in Glashütte, Saxony on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

While there were no longer any major obstructions on the roads for motorists on Wednesday evening, around 6,500 households in Jena had to cope without heating and hot water. 

The city in the northeastern state Thuringia had declared a disaster after a district heating pipe ruptured.

Everything has been running again since Thursday morning – according to the municipal utility, the repair was successfully completed during the night. 

Nuremberg and Braunschweig also recently experienced problems with their district heating supply in freezing temperatures.

In Berlin, a 43-year-old man who had gone missing on Wednesday after an ice bath in a pond in Treptower Park died. He was missing for two and a half hours and then found by that rescue divers. He was resuscitated and sent to hospital severely hypothermic where he succumbed to his condition. 

The fire department warned against stepping on ice surfaces and appealed to people not to be reckless.

“Bathing in ice is life-threatening,” a spokesman said. Parents should inform their children about the dangers, he added.

Firefighters and rescue workers tried to save a man who had been ice bathing in Berlin's Treptower Park. Photo: DPA

A missing 49-year-old man in the Rostock district of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was lucky. According to the police, emergency services found him shortly before midnight at temperatures of -7C.

The man had gotten lost in the forest several kilometers away on Wednesday and was completely hypothermic, so he would probably not have survived the whole night, according to an emergency doctor.

READ ALSO: When was Germany's coldest winter?

Train and road traffic still affected

Deutsche Bahn (DB) reported at the start of Thursday that the cold snap with temperatures locally as low as -20C continues to affect long-distance and local traffic.

“Due to the extreme weather, vehicles and parts of the infrastructure such as switches and overhead lines are under particular strain.” 

This tweeted graphic from the German Weather Service shows temperatures around Germany on early Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

Long-distance traffic continues to run on many affected routes, he said. “On the east-west connections, there is a limited but stable service,” it said. More trains were also rolling again between north and south.

On Thursday, cross-border traffic to the Netherlands was also expected to resume.

In Kassel in Hesse, the main train station continued to be closed to train traffic due to snow loads on the roofs.

The clearing work was continuing, a spokeswoman for the North Hessian Transport Association (NVV) said Thursday morning. 

The clearing of the roofs was difficult because they were old and not accessible.

In Bad Salzuflen, North Rhine-Westphalia, the roof of an industrial hall partially collapsed under the weight of snow.

It buried two truck trailers under itself on Wednesday evening, according to the fire department. The hall was deserted, so no one was injured.

Local trains in Hanover head out over snowy tracks on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

The situation on the roads calmed down. In the Bielefeld area (North Rhine-Westphalia), where cars and trucks on the A2 had been extremely congested in some cases in previous nights, traffic flowed largely without problems. 

“It's more relaxed than the nights before,” a police spokesman said.

Near Braunschweig, many trucks continued to park on the hard shoulder on the autobahn because rest areas were full, according to police there. However, there had been no accidents.

A spokesman for the Göttingen highway police said there were “finally no problems”.

Continued cold front

It remains frosty in Germany. “On the edge of a weather front over northern Europe, very cold Arctic polar air is being directed to Germany with a northeasterly flow,” the German Weather Service reported Thursday.

“At the edge of the Alps, an Italian low will initially still provide snowfall.”

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

During the day on Thursday, there would continue to be widespread light to moderate permafrost between -1C and -10C around Germany, they said.

On late Thursday night and early Friday morning, moderate to severe frosty temperatures between -8C and -17C are to be expected throughout Germany.

However, in the central and eastern mountain region as well as in parts of southern Germany, the Mercury could dip to -20C.

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WEATHER

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

Parts of Germany were once again pummelled by heavy thunderstorms on Monday - just days after the city of Paderborn was struck by a devastating tornado.

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday by the German Weather Service (DWD), who cautioned residents in western and southwestern regions of the country that fierce gusts of wind, hailstones and heavy rain could once again be on the horizon.

A  second tornado could “not be ruled out” in the southwestern regions of the country, DWD warned. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, were struck by heavy rain and hailstorms and strong gusts of wind throughout the afternoon.

However, the worst of the thunder and hailstorms warnings were for the state of Baden-Württemberg. 

Here, DWD issued a Stage 3 weather warning – the second highest possible. Severe thunderstorms with gale-force winds at speeds of up to 110km per hour were forecast, with up to 50 litres of rain per square metre falling in a short space of time.

According to the meteorologists, the storms are expected sweep across to the eastern regions of the country and ease off in the evening.

The storms and severe weather warnings came days after the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia was hit by a devastating tornado.

According to the local fire brigade, 43 people were injured in the storm, with 13 of them needing to be hospitalised and one person reportedly fighting for their life. 

Railway services were cancelled across many parts of the west over the weekend, but resumed again on Monday.

Air travel in some parts of the country was also affected, with Frankfurt Airport in the central state of Hesse saying there was disruption to flights on Friday. 

Videos posted on social media depicted the strongest part of the tornado tearing through the city, ripping trees up by their roots.

The damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by the storm is estimated to be in the millions.

Schools remain closed

As of Monday, several schools and nurseries remained closed in both Paderborn and nearby Lippstadt due to fears that the buildings couldn’t be safely entered.

In the small town of Lippstadt alone, five nurseries and seven schools were closed for repairs on Monday, with administrators unable to say when they would reopen their doors.

“Given the extent of the damage we see at the various locations, it is currently unthinkable that classes can be held there in the next few days,” said Mayor Arne Moritz (CDU).

In Paderborn, meanwhile, drones were exploring five closed school buildings to check whether there was a risk of damaged roofs imploding. The streets where the schools are located have been closed off to the public and the police are believed to be patrolling outside to stop anyone entering.

READ ALSO: Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Damaged roof in Paderborn

A damaged roof in the aftermath of the Paderborn storms. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

More frequent tornadoes? 

Tornadoes aren’t infrequent in Central Europe, but recently appear to be gaining in frequency and intensity, which experts suggest could be a result of climate change. 

In June 2021, a deadly tornado swept through several villages in the Czech Republic near the Slovakian and Austrian borders, killing six people and injuring a further 200. 

At time, climatologists pointed out that until 2020, the Czech Republic only saw a handful of tornadoes each year – and most of them were relatively mild.

Speaking to WDR on Sunday, climate researcher Dr. Mojib Latif drew a direct parallel between warmer temperatures and more violent and regular storms.  

“In Germany there are approximately between 20 and 40 tornadoes per year,” he told the regional media outlet. “We have to reckon with that. As the climate gets warmer and thunderstorms become more violent, the frequency of tornadoes will also increase.”

However, some experts have been more cautious about drawing a direct link.

“That simply cannot be determined at the moment,” meteorologist Jürgen Schmidt told RND. 

Schmidt thinks the perception that tornadoes have increased in recent years could have a slightly more prosaic explanation.

The fact that people are able to record them on their smartphones and share these images more widely could contribute to this impression, he said. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

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