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LIGHTNING

What caused Germany’s deadly storm?

Severe storms have caught parts of western Germany off guard, killing six people and causing millions of euros worth of damage as well as travel delays. But what is causing the unpredictable weather?

What caused Germany's deadly storm?
An uprooted chestnut tree in Düsseldorf on Monday. Photo: DPA

The mingling of hot air from southern Germany and air form the north, which was 10C cooler, created conditions that resulted in the violent storms which devastated parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Thomas Ruppert of the German Weather Service (DWD) said on Tuesday that the hot southern air brought high temperatures of 37 degrees. The country baked over the holiday weekend in record temperatures.

That hot air then met with cool northern air which had blown in over from the English Channel. Ruppert said normally nature tries to mediate the tension between these two temperature extremes but "eventually it snaps".

Once the hot and humid air had risen, thunderstorms formed and created strong gusts of wind. Wind speeds of over 140 km/h were measured, which, according to Rupert, is quite rare.

According to the DWD, an average of 20-40 thunderstorms hit Germany in a given place each year, typically in the summer. They usually bring heavy rains and occasional hale.

Around two million lightning flashes also occur in the country annually. However, only 200,000 to 400,000 of these touch the ground, according to the DWD. The majority travel from cloud to cloud.

SEE ALSO: Violent storms kill six in western Germany

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WEATHER

Snowfall due at the weekend as winter arrives in Germany

After a cold blast at the end of November, winter in Germany is set to begin with yet more snow, making it the perfect time to dig out a puffer coat and get out to Christmas market.

Snowfall due at the weekend as winter arrives in Germany

German punctuality has struck once again as winter looks set to arrive right on cue this year, with a flurry of snowfall, ice and frosty conditions in several regions of the country.

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), Saxony-Anhalt could see the mercury drop as low as -6C on Friday as snow continues to fall until the afternoon. The Harz mountains will also get a festive dusting of snow, with temperatures ranging from -1 to -3C in the coming days.   

Saturday is set to be overcast in the region with up to 5cm of snowfall, but things could dry up on Sunday as temperatures rise to a nippy 1-3C. The eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia can also expect icy conditions and snow over the weekend.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, snow is also expected at higher altitudes. In eastern Westphalia and in the Sauerland region, there could be light snowfall or sleet, DWD reported on Friday. Drivers and cyclists should exercise caution as roads are likely to become slippery due to fresh snow or freezing rain.

DWD explains that two high-pressure areas are currently causing colder winds to sweep across Germany. The first, which caused snow to fall overnight across central Germany, is gradually heading south towards France – though the second is set to bring another icy spell to the country on Friday evening and into Saturday.

Bavaria will be the first to experience the chill as the high-pressure zone travels across the Alps overnight. 

The southern state is likely to have a soggy start to the weekend, with rain falling at lower altitudes – though more hilly and mountainous areas will see some snow. But as temperatures drop during the night, residents of Bavaria could see as much as 5cm as snow on Saturday morning.

READ ALSO: Surviving winter: 8 tips for enjoying the cold like a true German

The rest of the weekend will likely be marked by uniform grey skies, frost and drizzle, though those lucky enough to live in an Alpine region could see a few precious rays of sunshine too.

The weather will also take a distinctly wintry turn in Berlin and Brandenburg over the weekend, as the cold front sweeps across northeastern Germany on Saturday and towards the Baltic Sea. 

Friday is likely to be mostly chilly and overcast, with occasional rain or sleet and maximum temperatures of 2C. 

In the night, however, southern Brandenburg will start to see some fresh snowfall, which will move up across Berlin and to the north of Brandenburg over the course of Saturday.

Snow falls outside the Reichstag in Berlin

Snow falls outside the Reichstag in Berlin on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Berliners should be sure to wrap up if they’re heading out to enjoy the festive scenes, since the mercury is likely to hover between zero and -2C. 

Will the snow settle? 

Unfortunately the dusting of white is unlikely to stick around long in most places – so make your snow angels while you can. 

Misty or overcast skies will return on Advent Sunday, while occasional drizzle could well turn Saturday’s snow into slush. Hilly and mountainous regions will be the only ones treated to an extra helping of snow.

Meanwhile, Monday is set to get off to a soggy and wet start, with rainfall in most regions and temperatures between 1C and 5C. 

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?

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