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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

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.

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