Torrential rain swamps Berlin’s streets, stretches firefighters to limits

Hours of monsoon-style rain in Berlin on Thursday flooded busy streets and led trees to collapse onto train lines.

Torrential rain swamps Berlin’s streets, stretches firefighters to limits
A car drives along Yorkstrasse in Berlin. Photo: DPA

The rain started shortly after midday and still hadn’t stopped by the evening. Much of the inner city had been brought to a standstill late on Thursday, with water levels often reaching up to knee height, while sirens wailed up and down the main streets.

Shortly before 9pm, the fire services reported that they had been called out 2,000 times during the day, a level of operations normally only seen on New Year, Tagesspiegel reports.

Volunteer fire teams were also called in to support their professional colleagues in pumping water away from streets and out of cellars, with 700 fire personnel on operation.

The capital’s transport network also took a beating in the storms. The Autobahn in the south of the city was blocked off at the Alboinstraße exit in Tempelhof, leading to a huge tailback of traffic. The A100, one of the busiest roads in Germany, was also shut down in the west of the city near the Funkturm.

Flooding also caused streets to be closed down in several other locations across the city. In York Strasse the water on the road underneath the S-Bahn line was so deep that cars could no longer drive through it on Thursday evening.

The Berlin Transport Company (BVG) also announced that the U9 metro line had been partially closed. Meanwhile the S-Bahn line S25 was shut down in the north of the city after a tree fell onto the track.

At some U-Bahn stations the flooding was so severe that the water levels rose above the platforms. At many stations trains simply drove straight through without stopping.

Flights were cancelled at Tegel Airport, while inbound flights were redirected.

In Charlottenburg, in the west of the city, a building was evacuated after fire services deemed it at risk of collapsing.

One particularly dramatic video posted to Facebook showed a bus flooded with water and passengers having to hold their feet up to avoid a soaking.

The bad news? There is no end in sight.

Forecasters predict heavy downfalls on Thursday evening in Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

And on Friday the south of Germany will have to brace itself for the vicious weather. Heavy rain and gusts of up to 75 km/h are predicted for Baden-Württemberg.


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.