German shipping traffic blocked as rivers freeze

German shipping traffic blocked as rivers freeze
Photo: DPA
A week of record-breaking subzero temperatures has frozen stretches of Germany’s rivers, hindering boat traffic in several places around the country, the shipping authorities reported on Friday.

The fourth low temperature record of the week was notched in the town of Funtensee in the Bavarian Alps at -36.6 degrees Celsius (-33.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday morning, as the frigid European cold snap made its presence visible on German waterways. Much of the country is suffering chilly temperatures down to -17 degress Celsius made worse by an icy polar windchill, meteorologists said.

The Oder River along Germany’s eastern Polish border was frozen for some 120 kilometres, forcing ice breakers from the state of Brandenburg to be deployed to free Polish and German ships.

Ice breakers were also out on the Elbe River near Hamburg and Geeshacht after thick ice forced authorities to halt boat traffic around midnight on Thursday. Meanwhile two boats on the Elbe near the northern city of Lübeck were reportedly stuck in ice up to 15 centimetres thick.

The shipping authority near Koblenz reported that large chunks of ice were clogging traffic on the Mosel and Main rivers too. The Havel River was also frozen. “From Berlin all the way to Magdeburg nothing is moving,” authorities said.

The largest lake in the state of Hesse, the Edersee is frozen for the first time in three years, according to media reports.

Rescue services have also cancelled Dresden’s traditional New Year swim scheduled for this Sunday due to injury potential from ice chunks on the Elbe river.

German residents can take heart, though, with temperatures set to warm up to above freezing over the weekend, meteorologists said.

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