Berlin firefighters work to tackle flooding after ‘heaviest rain in a century’

Heavy rain has meant that Berlin firefighters battled flooded streets and cellars throughout the night on Thursday and into Friday morning.

Berlin firefighters work to tackle flooding after 'heaviest rain in a century'
A flooded street in Brandenburg on Thursday. Photo:DPA
Fire services were still in action on Friday morning, working hard to pump water out of cellars and away from streets after hours of uninterrupted rain on Thursday. On Friday morning 600 professional firefighters were still deployed. They had been supported by around 550 volunteers on Thursday evening.
The rain started shortly after midday on Thursday 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.
Throughout Thursday and Friday people uploaded eye-watering footage of the flooding to social media. On Friday morning one commuter filmed a man swimming along the street in a central neighbourhood of the capital.
According to tabloid Bild, the rainfall on Thursday was the heaviest seen in the capital for 110 years.

A spokesperson for the Berlin Water Works told Bild that 150 litres of water fell per square metre in the district of western Spandau.

“On average around 580 litres of rain fall every year in Berlin. That means that a quarter of the normal total for the year fell within an 18 hour period,” the spokesperson said.

The state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, was also hit hard by the severe weather, with up to half a year's rainfall completely swamping some streets.

Firefighters pump water out of a cellar in the Mitte district of Berlin on Friday. Photo: DPA

But the worst of the chaos seemed to be over on Friday morning.

“It is gradually getting calmer”, said a fire services spokesman.

But the German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted more long-lasting rain for Berlin and Brandenburg on Friday and Saturday, and weather warnings are in place for the north and east regions of Germany for Friday. 

The Autobahn was fully open again on Friday after several nightly closures, according to police. The overground metro lines were all also running according to schedule, after a tree had fallen onto the track in the north of the city, blocking to major commuter routes.

Underground U-Bahn services on the U9 were however still facing interruptions due to flooding in some stations. The U3 was running along the entire route again after a suspension of services on Thursday evening.

No further delays are also expected at at Tegel airport on Friday, after flight delays on Thursday.

The capital's transport network took a beating in the storms on Thursday. 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.

A house in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg had to be evacuated due to the heavy rainfall, but a structural engineer has since given the all-clear and the 18 evacuees were able to return to the building.


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.