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WEATHER

Hailstorms cut western swath of damage

Parts of western Germany are busy cleaning up on Saturday after heavy thunderstorms bringing hail caused hefty damage overnight.

Hailstorms cut western swath of damage
Photo: DPA

Reports from Lower Rhine area indicated two tornadoes had formed, but the Meteomedia Weather Service was unable to confirm that. In Bergisch Gladbach in North Rhine-Westphalia trees toppled like matchsticks over an area covering a quarter of a square kilometre. Hail stones as big as seven centimetres fell in the Lower Saxon towns of Oldenburg and Kürten.

Many regions were busy cleaning up Saturday morning. A police spokesman in one heavily hit area said nearly every residential roof was destroyed and some even caved in. “It looks like it does after a bomb attack,” he said.

There were some severe injuries and at least one death reported from the storms. In Koblenz a 36-year-old woman died on Friday after being hit by a falling branch while she sat in a beer garden. A roofer was severely injured when he fell while cleaning up the after the storm.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast

The hefty rains and hail came after many parts of Germany experienced extremely warm, humid weather. Meteorologists reported the highest temperatures at 36 degrees Celsius in Stuttgart, 35.8 in Munich and 35.4 in Jena in Thüringen.

The German Weather Service (DWD) said the severe storms mark the end of summer temperatures. Forecasts for most of the country center call for unseasonably cool weather. Anyone expecting more than 20 degrees is lucky and lives in the southern part of the country.

DPA/The Local/mw

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WILDFIRES

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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