Lower Bavaria district declares flood ‘disaster’

A district in Lower Bavaria has declared a natural disaster affecting three towns after heavy rain caused serious flooding, German media reported on Wednesday.

Lower Bavaria district declares flood 'disaster'
A man looks at a submerged car in Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, on Tuesday May 30th. Photo: DPA

“The situation has got dramatically worse in the last few hours. The whole centre of town has been flooded by the [river] Altbach,” Walter Czech, mayor of Triftern bei Pfarrkirchen in the Rottal district, told DPA.

Neighbouring Anzenkirchen was also badly affected by floods.

Triftern, a town of just over 5,000 people 35km south-west of Passau on the Austrian border, was not the only place to be struck by severe flooding.

Leipzig, Saxony's largest city, has also seen high waters block the entrance to the emergency room at the Elisabeth Hospital.

Train traffic between Saxon capital Dresden and the Czech Republic was briefly halted after a mudslide.

And firefighters in Bremen and Hanover were kept busy pumping out flooded cellars overnight as heavy rain swept into low-lying parts of the cities – including the Bremen fire service's own underground gym.

The German Weather Service (DWD) currently has serious weather and storm warnings in place across eastern Bavaria and in a swathe running from the northeast coast, over Hannover and all the way into North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

Large parts of Saxony and Thuringia are also covered by the alerts.

A DWD graphic showing severe weather warnings across Germany. Click for an interactive version. Image: DWD

Schoolkids can't get home

In Bavarian town of Triftern, around 250 schoolchildren cut off from their homes by the water face a night sleeping in the gym.

“Luckily the school building is on a hill,” mayor Czech said.

So far no-one has been hurt in Triftern, he went on, and emergency responders including firefighters and river rescue were on the scene.

A second group of 20 children were stranded on an island during a school boat trip, with one girl being treated for shock and another for hypothermia.

“Everyone who's available”, including firefighters and volunteer aid workers, has been sent to the flood area, police said.

Two helicopters are also being sent to rescue people who have been marooned in their houses in the Triftern area.

Eyewitnesses told broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that bridges and roads had been completely swamped and rivers had broken their banks.

In Passau river gauges stood at high levels on Wednesday afternoon, with the Danube exceeding its first warning level and the Inn just 40 centimetres below its own.

Some streets had to be closed in the city on the Bavarian-Austrian border for fear of flooding.

Baden-Württemberg picks up pieces

News of the flooding in Bavaria comes just as neighbouring Baden-Württemberg is getting to grips with the damage caused by heavy rain and storms on Sunday evening.

In Braunsbach divers were searching underwater for the bodies of people who might have been trapped in their cars by sudden violent floods.

State minister-president Winfried Kretschmann is also expected in the town today to inspect the damage.

Four people have been reported dead in floods since Monday.

Other parts of Germany, including North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, also suffered flooding on Monday and Tuesday.


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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.