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WEATHER

Police call drivers to caution as thick snow falls in western Germany

Police in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have warned that heavy snowfall has led to precarious conditions on the roads, as morning commuters struggled to get to work on Thursday.

Police call drivers to caution as thick snow falls in western Germany
A car drives through the snow in NRW on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a travel warning on Thursday morning for large areas of the west of the country, as well as the upper Bavaria region.

“It’s snowing really heavily here. We certainly think we are going to be dealing with accidents today,” a police spokesperson from Wuppertal told the Rheinische Post.

The autobahns around Düsseldorf were particularly badly hit by the poor weather. On the A46 traffic had built up over a 20-kilometre stretch of road heading into the NRW state capital as commuters cautiously picked their way through the icy conditions.

Similarly, on the A57 there was 20 kilometres of tail back due to heavy snowfall between Kreuz Kamp-Lintfort and Meerbusch.

In Cologne, police called on drivers to show caution. Two accidents have already been recorded in the city on Thursday due to the poor weather.

The DWD predicts that the snow will turn into sleet in the course of the day and warns that roads in the Ostwestfalen are particularly vulnerable to ice.

WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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