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WEATHER

World Cup fever to packed-out parks: Why Germany’s scorching summer is one to remember

When it comes to big issues, like world politics or climate change, it's safe to say things aren't that great at the moment. So in all the doom and gloom, sometimes you’ve just got to make the most of what you’re given...and this year that was a long, hot and, at times, simply unbearable summer.

World Cup fever to packed-out parks: Why Germany's scorching summer is one to remember
Youngsters swimming at Markkleeberger See, south of Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Setting aside for a moment the worrying reasons that Germany, and many other countries, are experiencing extreme weather such as heat waves, let’s consider some of the positive things it brought.

I, for one, am going to miss all the Eis. Of course, you can have ice cream at any time or any day of the year if that’s your thing.

But was there anything better than scoffing a zwei Kugeln (two scoops) cone or a shop-bought fruity ice lolly, or indeed anything else that was full of sugar and freezing cold in these soaring temperatures? I think not. 

During the height of the hot weather, when the temperature had already crept up to 32C before midday, it became the norm to eat an ice cream for lunch then have another later on.

To be honest, I can’t think of another time when it’s socially acceptable to eat a Magnum at 10am.A woman buying an ice cream in Niedersachsen in the north of Germany this summer. Photo: DPA

Yes, it made sleeping virtually impossible at times, such as when Berlin experienced its hottest night ever at the end of July.

But when faced with these god-awful temperatures, Germans made the most of it.

There was never an excuse to stay in: parks were packed out, barbecues were made, light nights were enjoyed.

Trying to buy a cooling fan became a national sport, as did the quest to find air-conditioned spots. I found the best relief from the heat, short of moving into my fridge permanently, was to wrap a tea towel round a pack of frozen peas and keep it beside me at all times.

I’ll always look back fondly to the night that the blood moon made a rare appearance to the world. That evening I was in Tempelhof, the former airfield in Berlin. It felt like the whole city was there, gathered on picnic blankets or fold-up chairs, with a Radler and snacks in hand.

Similarly, at the lakes there were almost no spots as beach-goers clambered for a swim when Feierabend arrived. 

Here’s another reason why I think summer 2018 was particularly great: the World Cup. Aha, I hear you say, Germany crashed out of the competition, what’s so good about that?

Well, maybe it’s because I’m Scottish and I can’t even remember the last time we managed to get a team into the competition, but I thought it was great to cheer on Deutschland even if it was only for a short time.

To watch a country pull together; flying flags from their cars or organizing parties to watch the matches, was amazing to experience. 

Towns and cities across Germany became public living rooms. I couldn’t believe it when I saw TVs taped onto lamp posts outside Spätis, takeaways and restaurants as guests watched the games.

People flooded into “public viewing” areas guzzling down beer and singing: “‘Schland, ‘Schland!” It softened everyone and made people feel part of something.

I think – whisper it – I even witnessed some banter between people in shops and on public transport. Germans aren’t so into small talk compared to, say, the Brits or Americans, but the sporting competition brought out a side that made people want to engage and have a laugh with each other more.

So it was inevitable that Germany’s World Cup failure would be a hard pill to swallow. However, the German media seemed to be overly dramatic, viewing it as some kind of symbol for how bad things were. “Germany in Crisis: once upon a time there was a strong country,” said a headline in Der Spiegel. The story went on to analyze the precarious position of the team and the nation it represented.

I mean, calm down! Things aren’t that bad! Even if the tournament didn’t see a German victory, it was still a special moment.

Disappointed fans in Berlin

Although the Germany flags were swiftly packed away, I was delighted to find the country still enjoyed the rest of the World Cup, showing all the games on the same TVs and fostering the same welcoming atmosphere. 

What can’t be ignored is the effect the hot weather had on the country. It caused a record drought that wreaked havoc on crops, sparking a national crisis for farmers.

What is encouraging to see during extreme weather, though, is that people seem to be a bit more connected. I think I spoke to my neighbours more this summer than I had the whole previous year. It's good to check in on each other when you're dealing with schreckliche Hitze – the terrible heat.

It’s only my second summer in Germany after last year's complete washout. So perhaps you can understand why I have rose-tinted spectacles on as I look back on this year's sunny days.

But with the deluge of bad news around, maybe it's not such a bad thing to make the most of the summer while it's here. And the ice cream, too.

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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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