IN PICTURES: Storms and floods strike across western Germany

Firefighters and police were called out numerous times on Thursday evening as thunderstorms brought traffic to a standstill, overturned trees and flooded cellars.

IN PICTURES: Storms and floods strike across western Germany
A fireman crosses a flooded street in Bottrop, North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday, June 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Feuerwehr Bottrop
Extreme weather struck the western and central German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hessen on Thursday evening, with thunder, torrential downpour and hailstones wreaking havoc in the region. 
The German Weather Service (DWD) urged residents of those areas to stay “vigilant” as they warned of oncoming thunderstorms, hail and downpour on Twitter on Thursday. 

As thunderstorms picked up throughout the evening, firefighters were called out to deal with numerous incidents of falling trees, flooded streets and waterlogged cellars. In the town of Bottrop, North Rhine-Westphalia, a fir tree was struck by lightening and burst into flames – but the fire was quickly extinguished by the heavy rains, local residents and firefighters. 
Meanwhile, in the municipality of Laer near Münster, police reported that an overflowing brook had caused both streets and cellars to flood. 
In other parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, the gales were so strong they overturned trees. In the city of Braubach, a parked car was buried under fallen branches during the thunderstorm, causing firefighters to be called out to the scene.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey
The Ruhr area was also struck by heavy rainfall and thunder. In Essen, firefighters and police officers were called out as taxis and other drivers became stranded in flooded streets and manhole covers burst open. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/TNN | Markus Gayk
A section of the B42 motorway, which runs between Bonn and Darmstadt, also had to be cordoned off due to a fallen tree. On another part of the motorway, firefighters were called out to deal with a landslide caused by the storms. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey
Hailstorms accompanied the heavy winds and thunder, with hailstones as large as two centimetres wide.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey
Across the region, residents complained of their cellars being flooded as the rain continued well into the night, finally tapering off around 4am.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/TNN | Markus Gayk
In total, police and emergency services were called out to around 50 weather-related incidents in North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday night. In Hesse, firefighters had to deal with around 70 weather incidents throughout the evening and into the night.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

While residents of Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia battled against thunderstorms and gale-force winds, other parts of Germany enjoyed clear skies and summery temperatures. In the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, temperatures hit highs of around 28C on Thursday, while in Berlin and Brandenburg, they peaked at around 27C around midday. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Will the storms stretch into Friday?

According to the DWD, another bout of stormy weather looks set to strike across western and central Germany on Friday evening, as heavy rain, hail and heavy gusts are expected to hit North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and parts of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

There also looks set to be further floods on the horizon in these areas as DWD expects rainfall of up to 60 litres per square metre, gusts of wind at speeds of 85 kilometres an hour, and potential thunderstorms. 

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Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a severe weather warning in several parts of Bavaria on Thursday as the southern state was struck by heavy snowfall and 100km-per-hour winds.

Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The heavy snowfall and high winds, which began on Wednesday, caused multiple accidents and delays on roads overnight in several parts of the state, according to police.

Since the early hours of the morning, there were “considerable traffic obstructions throughout Lower Bavaria due to the weather”, a spokesperson for the police said, adding that emergency services had been called out to around 100 incidents in the region.

“There have already been numerous traffic accidents and traffic disruptions due to the weather. Several vehicles have already had to be rescued from ditches and trees removed from the roadways.”

The extreme weather is expected to continue on Thursday across southern and eastern Germany, with “no end in sight” to the heavy snowfall, according to DWD. 

In districts near the Alps and the Bavarian Forest, gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour and drifting snow are expected, meteorologists reported. 

In the eastern districts and along the Alps, meanwhile, DWD has forecasted severe snowstorms and thunder. In parts of Franconia, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate, torrential rain will continue throughout Thursday and potentially lead to flooding. 

On Thursday morning, DWD issued a stage 4 weather warning – the highest possible – for multiple districts in the state. Forecasters warned of icy roads, heavy downpours and thunderstorms throughout the day and into the evening.

Berchtesgadener Land, Rosenheim, Passau and Regensburg were among the 13 districts where warnings of severe storms were issued. 

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Germany hit by sudden snowstorms and temperatures as low as -10C

Drivers were urged to take caution on icy roads and DWD also warned of potential avalanches in mountainous areas where up to 1.5m of fresh snowfall was expected.

The rain and snow is set to die down on Friday, but freezing temperatures could lead to icy and slippery conditions for drivers. 

Central and eastern German states – and parts of the Baltic coast – have also been experiencing turbulent storms in recent days, which meteorologists expect to last into Friday. 

By the weekend, however, the high winds and stormy conditions are expected to have largely died down, with overcast skies, patchy rainfall and highs of around 11C.