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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More disruption expected as severe storms lash Germany

From travel disruption due to flooding to lightning and extreme heat, Germany is being hit by a series of summer storms - with more expected this weekend.

More disruption expected as severe storms lash Germany

The weather in Germany so far this June has been extreme. 

And that trend is expected to continue this weekend as more heavy storms – and even the possibility of tornadoes – are expected. 

The German Weather Service (DWD) has warned of a tornado risk in southern and northern Baden on Saturday evening. Temperatures could reach up to 35C in this region in the run up to forecasted storms.  

According to a DWD spokesperson on Friday, extreme thunderstorms are expected to move in this direction from France. They are forecast to bring hailstones up to five centimetres in size, gale-force gusts and heavy rainfall of 30 to 50 litres per square metre in just a few hours.

People heading to fan zones for Euro 2024 across the country are being urged to check before traveling, in case areas are closed due to the weather. 

Travel disruption, lightning strikes and flooding

Storms on Thursday night already caused problems across the country. 

From Bavaria to Hamburg, and North-Rhine Westphalia to Thuringia – there was heavy rainfall as well as thunder and lightning. 

The railway line between Bremen and Hamburg was closed for several hours. According to Deutsche Bahn, long-distance trains were diverted via Hanover and several regional trains were cancelled. The line has since been reopened, at least to a limited extent, but delays should still be expected.

Stormy weather in Pförring, Bavaria on Thursday.

Stormy weather in Pförring, Bavaria on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/NEWS5 | Ferdinand Merzbac

Long-distance trains are being diverted via Hanover without stopping. “Some IC/ICE trains are cancelled between Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia,” said Deutsche Bahn. 

According to Hamburg fire and rescue teams, there were more than 700 call-outs by early evening. In addition to flooding, emergency services had to deal with uprooted trees and fallen branches.

READ ALSO: Germany braces for heat, humidity and thunderstorms

Streets were also submerged in water. 

The DWD on Thursday issued severe weather warnings, including for lightning strikes. In Gernrode in Saxony-Anhalt, a lightning strike destroyed the chimney of a detached house, while in Unterpörlitz in Thuringia a roof truss caught fire after being struck by lightning.

Up to 100 litres of rain per square metre fell within a short time during a heavy storm in Detmold in North Rhine-Westphalia. According to a statement from the city, a thunderstorm cell unloaded with tremendous force over the north-east of the city.

In comparison: in North Rhine-Westphalia, there was an average of 91 litres of rain per square metre in the entire month of April – and that was around 50 percent more precipitation than in average years. Nobody was reported harmed in the storm.

In Dresden two supermarket employees were reportedly taken to hospital after a lightning strike hit a store in the Klotzsche district. The woman and man, both 50-years-old, complained of headaches, malaise and nausea, the fire and rescue service said. The store was evacuated. 

The storm in Dresden flooded streets and brought down trees. As well as Klotzche, the districts of, Hellerau, Wilschdorf and Löbtau were particularly affected. 

Heavy thunderstorms also kept firefighters busy in parts of Thuringia, where roads were closed. In Gerthausen in south-west Thuringia, the fire brigade was also deployed to pump water out of cellars.