Hurricane Xaver - floods give way to heavy snow
AFP/DPA/The Local · 6 Dec 2013, 13:34
Published: 06 Dec 2013 13:34 GMT+01:00
With blasts of 180 km/h along the North and Baltic coast, Xaver hit Germany with force on Thursday and the bad weather continued into Friday. Travel was severely disrupted, while schools and Christmas markets were shut.
The storm is making its way east and the worst has passed Germany, but Xaver has brought cold Arctic weather with it, leading to snowfall across the country, weather service DWD said on Friday.
Mountain areas can expect five to 10 centimetres of snow and with strong winds, snow drifts are also expected.
On Friday night more snow is set to fall in the east, but temperatures should get warmer in the west, although there will also be more rain.
On Sunday a warmer front should reach Germany, according to forecasters. Monday will be rainy but mild, DWD said.
In northern Germany, the Elbe River harbour of Hamburg was under six metres of water on Thursday night, the highest in about a decade, leaving only the tops of lamp posts sticking out of the freezing waters.
A fallen tree also derailed a suburban commuter train in Hamburg which hit a bridge. The fire brigade had to free six passengers from the train, one with minor injuries.
In snowy Berlin, hefty winds brought down the 13-metre-tall Christmas tree outside the residence of President Joachim Gauck.
Children were allowed to stay away from school, and Christmas markets battened down their hatches.
Still, German authorities said the worst had been averted, and damage was nowhere near that of severe floods in 1962 that left 340 people dead.
"Tonight Germany held its breath and looked at the dykes, and they withstood" the high seas, said the environment minister of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, Robert Habeck.
"We had very early warning and were quite ready for it," said Christian Herold from DWD. "We are much better prepared today" than in 1962, he said.
Trains to the city from Hannover were still down on Friday as was much of the public transport network. The states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony also had very limited trains running. Many flights were also cancelled.
On the Baltic coast, the Mecklenburg Western-Pomeranian city of Stralsund saw a roof blow off a supermarket causing damage of €400,000 but no-one was injured. Nearby Rostock and Greifswald universities cancelled lectures.
Around 2,000 firemen were on standby in Schleswig-Holstein, which on Friday morning was still awaiting a possible storm tide.
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