Icy weather causes accidents in Germany as cold spell set to end

Shortly before the end of the cold spell in Germany, there have been numerous weather-related accidents, especially in the northern half of the country.

Icy weather causes accidents in Germany as cold spell set to end
Cars on the icy roads on early Tuesday morning in Laatzen, Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

In Lower Saxony, there has been “a massive number of traffic accidents in a very short time” since the evening, especially in the district of Göttingen, a police spokesman said on Tuesday morning. 

Sixteen cars were involved in a total of 10 accidents, he said, and two people were slightly injured.

READ ALSO: When was Germany's coldest winter?

Following pouring rain on Monday afternoon, roads again became slippery, and Autobahn 7 near Göttingen was closed twice in both directions in the evening.

On the roads of Schleswig-Holstein, there have been dozens of accidents in snow and icy conditions.

An icy pier in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein on early Tuesday morning. Photo: DPA

In Lübeck and the districts of Ostholstein, Herzogtum Lauenburg and Stormarn, police were called to more than 40 weather-related incidents in the evening and early morning, a police spokeswoman said. 

Some cars slid into a ditch or ran off the road, she said. A common problem was people driving with the “wrong tires”.

A total of six people were injured in the weather-related accidents there, she said.

In the Oberhavel district of Brandenburg, a police officer was injured in a car accident on the A10. He had removed barriers in the evening after a slippery road accident and was hit by the car.

Fatal ice skating accident in southern Germany

Everywhere in the country it remains dangerous to step on icy surfaces and waterways: a 29-year-old man died in hospital a few hours after he collapsed while skating on a frozen pond in Baden-Württemberg, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

The young man was skating about 50 metres from shore on the pond near Ravensburg on Monday afternoon when the ice gave way beneath him. A 60-year-old man tried to help the young man and collapsed himself.

Passers-by pulled the injured helper to shore. The 29-year-old was first pulled out of the water by a diver from the German Life-Saving Association (DLRG) and then taken to a hospital.

Local transport stops

In Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, the transport company completely stopped service. Early Tuesday morning, operations gradually resumed service.

Magdeburg's public transport company also temporarily suspended operations on Monday evening. Freezing rain had made the roads slippery as glass, the transport companies in Saxony-Anhalt's capital announced. 

In addition, the overhead lines of the streetcars were covered with a layer of ice within a few minutes.

Weather in the next days

Germany’s cold spell, which has seen temperatures in parts of the country over the past week dip to below -20C, is coming to an end.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is facing extreme winter weather this month

Temperatures are expected to climb higher throughout the week. By this Sunday, the Mercury in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich is expected to read 13C, and 17C in Cologne.

For the east and southeast, some snowfall was still expected for early Tuesday, which should quickly turn into rain and subside during the morning.

This is caused by a strong Atlantic weather front, which is gradually bringing warmer sea air, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

Temperatures well above freezing will also bring rain to Berlin and Brandenburg, which are still covered in snow.

A Berlin bench near the Brandenburg Gate was covered with fresh snow on early Tuesday morning. Photo: DPA

As DWD announced Tuesday morning, there will be intermittent drizzle or rain in the region throughout the day. 

According to the meteorologists, temperatures will climb up to 8C on Tuesday.

There are also warnings of slippery conditions for some regions in the southern half of the country, such as the south of Bavaria.

Here, freezing rain or drizzle is to be expected in some areas, according to DWD. Black ice could occur. 

In the course of the day, however, it will be significantly milder, with 3C in the eastern low mountain ranges and 11C in the western foothills of the Alps.


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How extreme winter weather in Germany could affect your travel plans

Southern Germany has been battling full-on snow storms and sub-zero conditions. It's led to travel chaos which will continue this week.

How extreme winter weather in Germany could affect your travel plans

Heavy snowfall hit southern Germany on Saturday, resulting in Munich airport closing and dozens of trains being cancelled.

But the disruption continued on Sunday – and there are expected to be problems in the first few days of this week. 

Rail traffic in southern parts of the country was brought to a standstill as trees blocked tracks, overhead lines froze over and trains got buried in snow, leaving them unable to travel. 

“Due to the onset of winter, there will probably be delays and train cancellations in the south of Germany until midweek,” said rail operator Deutsche Bahn in a service statement on Monday. 

“Access to Munich Hauptbahnhof (central station) is currently only very limited. There are therefore only a few long-distance trains running to and from Munich.”

READ ALSO: Heavy snow paralyses parts of southern Germany

DB advised that journeys to and from Munich should be postponed.

There were still no connections between the state capital and Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria, as well as Zurich in Switzerland. These services were expected to resume on Tuesday. 

On the route between Stuttgart and Singen, some services had resumed, however, there could be short-term cancellations.

DB also said that there may be train cancellations and delays in other parts of Germany due to the freezing weather. 

Deutsche Bahn advised that passengers who want to postpone their trip planned from December 2nd to December 4th due to the weather can use their ticket at a later date. 

It is also possible to take a different route than the one booked if it is going to the same destination. Meanwhile, seat reservations can be cancelled free of charge.

A stranded regional train from the Swabian Alb Railway on Sunday.

A stranded regional train from the Swabian Alb Railway on Sunday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Warnack

Because running train services were expected to be packed on Monday, train bosses recommended that passengers plan their postponed trip from December 5th onwards. 

Refunds are also possible if passengers cannot travel at a later date. 

A free hotline (08000-996633) has been set up for customers who want more information about the current situation.

S-Bahn and regional services around Munich are also impacted, with tracks expected to gradually improve over the next few days.

What about other possible disruption?

People planning to fly will be glad to hear that the situation at Munich airport is slowly returning to normal – but bosses have warned that disruption is still expected. 

The second runway at Munich reopened at around 7:20 am on Monday. The airport was forced to close on Saturday due to the severe snowfall, throwing travel plans into disarray. 

On Sunday due to the snow conditions, flights could only take place via the northern runway.

A total of 840 flights were planned to take place on Monday, however around 230 had been cancelled.

A spokesperson from Munich airport said there were still “severe restrictions in air traffic”.

“The flight schedule has been greatly reduced due to the airlines’ cancellations,” the spokesperson said.

“We therefore recommend that all travellers flying today or tomorrow check the status of their flight with their airline or contact the airlines directly before arriving at the airport.

“It is not yet possible to predict how the situation will develop in the coming days.”

The Christmas and winter market at the airport was to remain closed on Monday and Tuesday. 

Other parts of Germany were also hit by snow and freezing conditions at the weekend, including Baden-Württemberg. 

The weather also impacted road travel in parts of northern Germany with one car in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania coming off a snow-covered road and hitting a tree. The driver and one passenger were seriously injured.

When it comes to the roads on Monday, there was no major disruption but drivers were urged to stay vigilant, and police have warned of slippery roads. 

Meanwhile, some youngsters got a snow day on Monday. In parts of Upper Bavaria and Augsburg, schools were closed due to the weather.