Storm ‘Emma’ death toll rises in Germany

The powerful storm ‘Emma’ has caused several deaths and injuries in Germany on Saturday, as uprooted trees and high winds made the country’s railways and roads unsafe.

Storm 'Emma' death toll rises in Germany

The violent weather claimed the life of one man after a 30-metre spruce tree smashed into the back seat a car travelling in the Westerwald region and another died in Bavaria after a gust of wind pushed his motorscooter into oncoming traffic.

A German high-speed train crashed into a tree felled by powerful winds near Bonn, injuring the engineer. The incident occurred around 5:30 am as the low-pressure storm system ‘Emma’ swept across Germany. The ICE train did not derail and there were no serious injures to passengers, according to a spokesman for Germany’s national railway Deutsche Bahn.

The storm has so far not been as strong as meteorologists had expected, but winds in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia, where the train accident happened, have topped 135 kilometres an hour.

“We have sporadic route closures across Germany, but much fewer than we’d expected,” said the Deutsche Bahn spokesman, adding that uprooted trees have temporarily blocked the rails between Dortmund and Hanover, Leipzig and Dresden, Münster and Osnabrück, as well as Koblenz and Köln.

Flights at major German airports faced delays on Saturday afternoon and gusting winds forced the postponement of the women’s alpine skiing World Cup slalom at Zwiesel in southeastern Germany.

Despite the deaths and damage, it appears as if ‘Emma’ will not wreak the same level of havoc as storm ‘Kyrill’ did last year in Germany. Jörg Kachelmann from the meteomedia weather service said Saturday’s storm could still have “dramatic” effects in specific areas, but it wasn’t nearly as “widespread as Kyrill.”

In January 2007, ‘Kyrill’ packed winds toping 200 kilometres an hour and left a path of death and destruction in its wake. Forty-seven people died across Europe, 11 of them in Germany.


What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.