Travel chaos after thunderstorms and rain lash eastern Germany

Commuters faced travel disruption on Wednesday due to torrential rain, giant hailstones and thunderstorms in the east of the country.

Travel chaos after thunderstorms and rain lash eastern Germany
Lightning above the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on Tuesday night. Photo: DPA

The storms resulted in flooded streets, homes and roads as well as fallen trees – and fires caused by lightning strikes, reported broadcaster RBB 24.

Hailstones as big as table tennis balls – around five centimetres in size – were recorded by the German Weather Service (DWD) in Saxony and Brandenburg.

In Berlin and nearby Potstdam alone, emergency services were called out more than 300 times.

Due to flooding, sections of two important motorways had to be closed. The Stadtring (A100) at Kaiserdamm in the direction of Neukölln was still shut on Wednesday morning.

Traffic was being diverted via the Kaiserdamm exit, causing delays.

SEE ALSO: IN PICTURES – Giant hailstones hit Munich as storms continue across Germany

Flooding in the west of Berlin. Photo: DPA

The A115 (known as the AVUS) between Spanischer Allee and Kreuz Zehlendorf was closed in both directions on Wednesday, a police spokesman said. The closure was causing traffic jams.

The Schlichtallee road in Rummelsburg between Haupt and Lückstraße was also closed. Other roads, including the Sachsendamm, became flooded.

Emergency forces had to pull several vehicles out of the water in the night. Traffic lights also failed throughout the city.

SEE ALSO: Thunderstorms and heat wave forecast for Germany

S-Bahn disruption

The Berlin S-Bahn was also affected by the weather. According to operator Deutsche Bahn, a lightning strike in Alt-Reinickendorf was causing delays and possible train cancellations on the S25 line.

Some ticket machines were not working due to power outages.

Passengers at both Berlin airports – Tegel and Schönefeld – faced delays as they were unable to board or disembark aircrafts for several hours between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. However, a spokesperson for the airports said take-offs and landings were possible.

The spokesperson could not say how many passengers were affected.

Cars stuck

The Brandenburg state capital Potsdam was also hit particularly hard by the thunderstorms and torrential rain. Cellars and underground garages filled with water, streets were flooded, trees overturned and cars were damaged.

Rescue workers in Potsdam. Photo: DPA

In the Babelsberg district, a car got stuck in an underpass and had to be pulled out of the water by rescue teams. In the Bornim area, a house caught fire after lightning struck. The residents were able to get out in time and nobody was injured.

Storm chaos

Giant hailstones, similar to the hail showers in Munich on Monday, were reported in Saxony and Brandenburg.

Meanwhile, in Prerow, in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, an apartment building caught fire after lightning struck. Luckily, nobody was injured.

In Bad Hersfeld in Hesse, thunderstorm warnings had an effect on the festival programme for Hessentag, an annual celebration held in the central German state. To be on the safe side, organizers cancelled Tuesday evening's events.

More rainfall and storms

Forecasters have a warning in place for more storms in the east of the country on Wednesday. The warning is from 1pm until midnight on Thursday.

Lightning in Brandenburg on Tuesday night. Photo: DPA

Thunderstorms, giant hailstones, winds of up to 100km/h and heavy rain could be on the way.

In some places, such as parts of Saxony, huge amounts of rainfall is possible, a DWD spokesperson said.

The map shows the storm warning in eastern Germany on Wednesday, and the heat warning further east.

Temperatures in eastern Germany will remain very warm on Wednesday. According to the DWD, the mercury could climb to 34C, with the Brandenburg city of Frankfurt/Oder becoming particularly hot.

In western Germany it is becoming cooler, and in many places the temperature will remain below 20C.

The thunderstorms are expected to move east towards Poland in the night. The risk of storms in Germany decreases on Thursday and Friday.

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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.