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TRAVEL

Hundreds of drivers spend night on Autobahn as Germany’s snow chaos continues

Long traffic jams built up on motorways in several regions of Germany due to the freezing conditions, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their cars.

Hundreds of drivers spend night on Autobahn as Germany's snow chaos continues
A traffic jam near Bielefeld on Monday evening. Photo: DPA

The worst log jam came on the A2 motorway outside Bielefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia where an enormous 37 kilometre line of traffic built up on both sides of the road on Monday night. The queues stretched all the way into the state of Lower Saxony and had still not been cleared by Tuesday morning.

The A2 was blocked in both directions due to trucks coming to a standstill in the snow and not being able to get out. Police reported that hundreds of drivers had to spend the night in their cars.

Video footage showed shivering drivers huddled in their vehicles, complaining of going for hours without food as temperatures plunged to minus 12 degrees Celsius.

“The whole situation is tough, we are trying to work on a solution,” a police spokesman said on Tuesday morning.

In Bielefeld, a man was found dead on a snow-covered road on Monday, though emergency services said initial findings suggested he had suffered a medical emergency.

IN PICTURES: Snow and bitterly cold temperatures hit Germany

Another scene from the A2 near Bielefeld. Photo: DPA

Further down the A2 at Dortmund the motorway was also blocked after hundreds of haulage trucks broke the law banning them from driving after 10 pm and got stuck in the snow. 

“The police registered 350 breaches of the law,” a spokesperson confirmed.

There was also traffic jams in Brandenburg, where two lorries slid across the slippery surface of the A10. Both lorries were jammed perpendicular to the road and could no longer move.

Good news came for drivers who had been stuck on a stretch of the A4 in north Hesse for 15 hours. Police reported that the road there had been cleared. But traffic was still moving slowly while police moved from truck to truck waking drivers who’d fallen asleep.

Major transport problems

Intercity train travel meanwhile continues to be heavily restricted. There are no services from Hamburg to Munich, or Hamburg to Cologne.

The train service connecting Saxony’s two major cities – Dresden and Leipzig – is also closed.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, some 20 car accidents were reported during a day of heavy snowfall. Fortunately, only one injury was reported.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer appealed to people in northern and central Germany to stay at home until at least Wednesday. 

“In such extreme conditions, even the best gritting vehicles will reach their limits,” the CSU politician said on Tuesday. 

“We are working on all fronts to ensure that we get the north-south roads free – so that we can at least drive with restrictions,” he said.

“A new weather front is forming: a small one, but it's very fierce,” Scheuer said. “On Tuesday and Wednesday we will get a lot of snow on the Baltic Sea and near Rügen, along with stormy conditions.”

Enjoying the snow on the Maschsee in Hannover. Photo: DPA

In much of Germany though, snow will give way to frost in the coming days. In central and eastern Germany, night frost of -18C will not be uncommon, weather forecaster Martin Jonas predicts.

With the wind chill factor, temperatures could feel as low as minus 30 degrees at night, forecasters have said.

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WEATHER

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. 

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