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WEATHER

Too much snow for Ski Jumping

Heavy snows have caused one of the highpoints of the German sports calendar - the World Cup Ski Jumping - to be temporarily postponed, as deep snow also settled on the capital, Berlin, for the first time this winter.

Too much snow for Ski Jumping
No action at the ski jump Photo: DPA

Despite being a snow-based event, organisers of the ski jump in Obserstdorf, the International Ski Federation, took the decision to postpone Sunday night's event until Monday, due to "falling snow and strong winds".

The ski jumping will now take place at 530pm Monday, the federation announced on Twitter. Obersdorf is in the Bavarian Alps, southern Germany.

Meanwhile, residents of the capital may have missed out – just – on a white Christmas, but woke on Monday to find several centimetres of snow had settled overnight, in a snowfront that was working its way south through the country during Monday.

Some five centimetres fell on the capital and surrounding regions, according to the weather service.

The blanket of white snow – the first major snow of the winter – caused some to take to Twitter to mock the ongoing Pegida protests (Europeans Against the Islamization of the West), and their anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant stance.

Under the hashtag #schneegida, one joked "You got out in the streets and don't know if you're still in Germany", while another said: "I have nothing against snow – so long as it conforms to our climate turns into rain."

Biberach in southern Germany recorded the lowest overnight temperature, according to the German weather service, with temperatures plunging to minus 24.

Parts of the Alps saw up to 40 centimetres of snow, but northern Germany should see temperatures rise to around 4 degrees on Monday and Tuesday, with rain washing away the snow, while eastern and southern Germany remain freezing and prone to snow.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the weather was responsible for several car accidents, including one road-clearing vehicle that rolled over. One woman was killed in an accident near Dortmund. 

New Year's Eve, according to the weather service, will be a mixed picture. Largely cloudy in the north, with 6 degrees on the coast and 2 degrees in Berlin, with possible rain and some cloud to mar the fireworks, although sunny and minus 8 in the Bavarian Alps.

New Year's Day will see some bitterly cold temperatures, down to minus 10 in Munich and minus 15 in Alpine regions, with Cologne at freezing and Hamburg and the north between zero and four degrees.

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WEATHER

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

Parts of Germany were once again pummelled by heavy thunderstorms on Monday - just days after the city of Paderborn was struck by a devastating tornado.

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday by the German Weather Service (DWD), who cautioned residents in western and southwestern regions of the country that fierce gusts of wind, hailstones and heavy rain could once again be on the horizon.

A  second tornado could “not be ruled out” in the southwestern regions of the country, DWD warned. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, were struck by heavy rain and hailstorms and strong gusts of wind throughout the afternoon.

However, the worst of the thunder and hailstorms warnings were for the state of Baden-Württemberg. 

Here, DWD issued a Stage 3 weather warning – the second highest possible. Severe thunderstorms with gale-force winds at speeds of up to 110km per hour were forecast, with up to 50 litres of rain per square metre falling in a short space of time.

According to the meteorologists, the storms are expected sweep across to the eastern regions of the country and ease off in the evening.

The storms and severe weather warnings came days after the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia was hit by a devastating tornado.

According to the local fire brigade, 43 people were injured in the storm, with 13 of them needing to be hospitalised and one person reportedly fighting for their life. 

Railway services were cancelled across many parts of the west over the weekend, but resumed again on Monday.

Air travel in some parts of the country was also affected, with Frankfurt Airport in the central state of Hesse saying there was disruption to flights on Friday. 

Videos posted on social media depicted the strongest part of the tornado tearing through the city, ripping trees up by their roots.

The damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by the storm is estimated to be in the millions.

Schools remain closed

As of Monday, several schools and nurseries remained closed in both Paderborn and nearby Lippstadt due to fears that the buildings couldn’t be safely entered.

In the small town of Lippstadt alone, five nurseries and seven schools were closed for repairs on Monday, with administrators unable to say when they would reopen their doors.

“Given the extent of the damage we see at the various locations, it is currently unthinkable that classes can be held there in the next few days,” said Mayor Arne Moritz (CDU).

In Paderborn, meanwhile, drones were exploring five closed school buildings to check whether there was a risk of damaged roofs imploding. The streets where the schools are located have been closed off to the public and the police are believed to be patrolling outside to stop anyone entering.

READ ALSO: Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Damaged roof in Paderborn

A damaged roof in the aftermath of the Paderborn storms. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

More frequent tornadoes? 

Tornadoes aren’t infrequent in Central Europe, but recently appear to be gaining in frequency and intensity, which experts suggest could be a result of climate change. 

In June 2021, a deadly tornado swept through several villages in the Czech Republic near the Slovakian and Austrian borders, killing six people and injuring a further 200. 

At time, climatologists pointed out that until 2020, the Czech Republic only saw a handful of tornadoes each year – and most of them were relatively mild.

Speaking to WDR on Sunday, climate researcher Dr. Mojib Latif drew a direct parallel between warmer temperatures and more violent and regular storms.  

“In Germany there are approximately between 20 and 40 tornadoes per year,” he told the regional media outlet. “We have to reckon with that. As the climate gets warmer and thunderstorms become more violent, the frequency of tornadoes will also increase.”

However, some experts have been more cautious about drawing a direct link.

“That simply cannot be determined at the moment,” meteorologist Jürgen Schmidt told RND. 

Schmidt thinks the perception that tornadoes have increased in recent years could have a slightly more prosaic explanation.

The fact that people are able to record them on their smartphones and share these images more widely could contribute to this impression, he said. 

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

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