Heavy storms flood streets, kill one in west Germany

Thunderstorms across western Germany on Wednesday night left one woman dead, as well as streets and basements flooded, while lightning strikes started fires in other places.

Heavy storms flood streets, kill one in west Germany
A cyclist tries to ride through the flooded streets of Cologne on Wednesday. Photo: DPA.

One 51-year-old woman in Dortmund died during the storms when a tree fell over onto her. Police believe that the tree was knocked over by the wind and rain amid the thunderstorm.

In Cologne, firefighters were called to around 550 operations alone. Streets and basements there flooded, and air as well as train travel was delayed.

Numerous cars on the streets were also left partially submerged in water, and one underground garage had water measuring 1.5 metres high.

Water also covered the floor in parts of the central train station, as pictured below.

Flights at Cologne Bonn airport were interrupted for 90 minutes due to the weather, with 15 taking off late and 14 flights arriving late. One flight to Munich was also cancelled. After a tree fell onto overhead wiring for a train line going from Bonn to Koblenz, some train journeys were cancelled and others were delayed.

One of Germany’s four biggest folk festivals, Düsseldorf’s Rheinkirmes, was interrupted for about two hours due to the storms. But by 5.45pm, it had resumed.

Meanwhile in Baden-Württemberg, the Hohentwielfestival music festival with 3,200 visitors ended prematurely as the guests were told to leave due to the heavy wind and rain.

Elsewhere in Lower Saxony, lightning strikes sparked several fires on agricultural land, which firefighters had to put out overnight. No one was injured, according to police.

The German Weather Service (DWD) predicts the stormy weather will continue into Thursday, with rain or thunderstorms expected to fall in nearly every part of the country by the end of the day.

By Friday morning, the rain clouds are expected to be cleared away, says DWD, though the southwest of the country around Stuttgart and Konstanz are forecast to be hit by more thunderstorms on Friday evening.

Saturday is predicted to be rainy and stormy across most of the country again, though as of Thursday, DWD predicts the area around Munich to be virtually the only dry spot at the start of the weekend. This won’t last, however: the Bavarian capital will join the rest of Germany in having a very wet Sunday.


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.