Frankfurt Airport opens a runway after shutdown

Heavy snow and ice forced the complete closure of Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest, for several hours on Tuesday. One runway was reopened, for take-offs only, in the afternoon.

Frankfurt Airport opens a runway after shutdown
Photo: DPA

“Since 13:30 pm (1230 GMT), we have one runway available. A few flights have been able to take off. Landings are still not possible,” an airport spokesman told AFP.

He said that 355 flights had been cancelled, out of a scheduled daily total of 1,250.

A band of wintry weather brought travel chaos as it moved from the north of Germany towards the south and west. Frankfurt Airport had before 10am already cancelled more than 200 of its 1,238 flights for the day. Domestic flights were hit the worst, along with inter-European trips.

But by midday de-icing crews were unable to keep up with the weather, forcing the entire airport to shut down. Airport officials said they hoped flights could resume later in the afternoon.

“Since 11:20am, there have been no take-offs or landings. In addition to heavy snow, we have also had snowdrifts,” an airport spokesman told news agency AFP.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled or those facing delays have been offered free food, showers, two telephone calls and email access when necessary as well as a hotel stay.

They will not be getting refunds though, as snow qualifies as an “exceptional circumstance.”

In Hesse, where Frankfurt is, lots of schools have been shut because of the snow and police have had to shut numerous roads.

The Local/AFP/jcw/hc

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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.