Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday.

Police in Feldberg, in the Black Forest region said that two people were pulled out of two seperate avalanches in the region. Both times, mountain rescue operatorrs were called to the scene. Both people were pulled out without serious injuries. 

"Winter driving conditions are quite normal, but the amount of snow definitely did surprise us," said a Freiburg police spokesperson.

In Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, police reported 33 accidents caused by icy road, including 13 lorries that had jack-knifed across the road or got stuck on the hard shoulder. Police reported no injuries.

Elsewhere around Germany, a passenger bus, several cars and more lorries were stuck in the sudden snow.

"The snow fall came on in a matter of minutes," lorry driver Frank Lutz told n-tv news.

On the A33 between Bielefeld and Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia also counted three accidents, with one woman suffering life-threatening injuries, n-tv reported.

According to the German Weather Service (DWD) snow is expected to fall around the country, with some areas expecting to receive as much as 10 centimetres. As a result, the DWD has put in place weather warnings for all of Germany ahead of the weekend.

In Thuringia, the DWD is warning of 15 to 20 centimetres of snow with strong winds in the higher altitudes, creating a potential for blocked roads and rails.  

Northern Germany can expect more snow too, as well as thunderstorms, the DWD said in its daily report. 

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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.