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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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WEATHER

‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

After seeing the hottest January so far since records began, meteorologists in Germany are now predicting a warmer-than-usual February, which could bring about problems for winter sports resorts.

‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

Germany is getting hotter. Every decade since the sixties has been warmer than the previous one and the pace is continuing to increase, the German Weather Service (DWD) said in its final climate assessment for the past year released on Monday.

“We are now experiencing hot spells and intensities that we would actually not have expected from climate models for a few decades,” said Andreas Becker, head of the DWD’s climate monitoring department.

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

“Since the year 1881, we now have an increase in the annual mean temperature in Germany of 1.7 C,” Becker said. He added that this increase can only be explained by man-made climate change.

The first half of January – usually considered to be the height of winter – was warmer than ever before this year, at 8.2 C above average. 

But while temperatures are expected to sink and bring some frost and snowfall later this week, meteorologist Dominik Jung from wetter.net, has said that there is no real prospect of a severe cold spell or a deep onset of winter. Meteorologist Alban Burster from wetter.com, meanwhile, said that he expects January to remain mainly foggy and wet.

Looking ahead to February, it seems likely that there will be no change in the warming trend. Meteorologist Jung said that he expects the second month of 2023 to be “almost a kind of ‘heat’ February” – at an average of two to three degrees warmer than the climate average.

Good news for some

For the winter sports season, the warm temperatures are  “a disaster”, Jung said.

READ ALSO: How heatwaves in Germany have led to thousands of deaths

The meagre snowfall is bad news for sports enthusiasts and ski lift operators, many of which have had to resort to using artificial snow – at a significant cost. 

However, for those hoping to save on their home heating bills, the warm winter months, for now, are good news. 

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