Brandenburg dubbed ‘hotspot of Europe’ as extreme weather continues

Sweltering temperatures have been hitting the Germany this week – but there’s also been no escape from tropical storms.

Brandenburg dubbed 'hotspot of Europe' as extreme weather continues
Children play in the sun in Storkow, Brandenburg on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

The German state of Brandenburg was dubbed the “hotspot of Europe” by forecasters after temperatures of 36C were recorded there on Wednesday, the hottest day of the year so far, reported Spiegel.

But as well as stifling heat, unpredictable storms have been hitting parts of the country, including a tornado with winds of up to 235m/h in North Rhine-Westphalia.

According to forecasts by the German Weather Service (DWD), temperatures were thought to have reached between 29 to 36C throughout the country on Wednesday, the peak of the heatwave.

However, on Thursday, fresh thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain were expected and temperatures should drop as a cooler front moves in. Torrential rain and storms were due to hit Berlin and Brandenburg in the afternoon.

It comes after a severe storm and tornado caused a huge amount of damage in Bocholt, Münsterland.

READ ALSO: Tornado rips through western German city

The tornado ripped roofs from houses, overturned cars and uprooted more than 100 trees on Tuesday night.

There were also thunder storms in other parts of Germany, including Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate, on Wednesday night.

The German Weather Service (DWD) has not ruled out the possibility of more extreme winds.

A lightning strike in Lower Saxony earlier this week. Photo: DPA

'Brandenburg is hotspot'

The DWD issued a heat warning for parts of Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony on Wednesday.

Peter Zedler of the DWD warned of the dangers of forest fires due to the extreme temperatures. Firefighters have been tackling wild fires across these regions during the heatwave.

READ ALSO: Heavy storms hit western Germany after heatwave

“Brandenburg is the hotspot of Europe,” Andreas Friedrich of the DWD added, signalling that the area was hotter than many other places across the continent.

With temperatures of up to 34C, Wednesday also become the hottest day of the year to date in Hesse, according to the DWD.

But the cold front coming up from the southwest will provide some relief – and much needed rainfall to areas where forest fires have been raging. Temperatures of around 20C are expected during the storms.

Looking ahead to the the holiday weekend, pleasant summer weather is likely in Germany, with sunshine, clouds and temperatures of around 25C. It will remain dry on the whole, but there is a chance of some showers.

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Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

Parts of Germany were once again pummelled by heavy thunderstorms on Monday - just days after the city of Paderborn was struck by a devastating tornado.

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday by the German Weather Service (DWD), who cautioned residents in western and southwestern regions of the country that fierce gusts of wind, hailstones and heavy rain could once again be on the horizon.

A  second tornado could “not be ruled out” in the southwestern regions of the country, DWD warned. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, were struck by heavy rain and hailstorms and strong gusts of wind throughout the afternoon.

However, the worst of the thunder and hailstorms warnings were for the state of Baden-Württemberg. 

Here, DWD issued a Stage 3 weather warning – the second highest possible. Severe thunderstorms with gale-force winds at speeds of up to 110km per hour were forecast, with up to 50 litres of rain per square metre falling in a short space of time.

According to the meteorologists, the storms are expected sweep across to the eastern regions of the country and ease off in the evening.

The storms and severe weather warnings came days after the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia was hit by a devastating tornado.

According to the local fire brigade, 43 people were injured in the storm, with 13 of them needing to be hospitalised and one person reportedly fighting for their life. 

Railway services were cancelled across many parts of the west over the weekend, but resumed again on Monday.

Air travel in some parts of the country was also affected, with Frankfurt Airport in the central state of Hesse saying there was disruption to flights on Friday. 

Videos posted on social media depicted the strongest part of the tornado tearing through the city, ripping trees up by their roots.

The damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by the storm is estimated to be in the millions.

Schools remain closed

As of Monday, several schools and nurseries remained closed in both Paderborn and nearby Lippstadt due to fears that the buildings couldn’t be safely entered.

In the small town of Lippstadt alone, five nurseries and seven schools were closed for repairs on Monday, with administrators unable to say when they would reopen their doors.

“Given the extent of the damage we see at the various locations, it is currently unthinkable that classes can be held there in the next few days,” said Mayor Arne Moritz (CDU).

In Paderborn, meanwhile, drones were exploring five closed school buildings to check whether there was a risk of damaged roofs imploding. The streets where the schools are located have been closed off to the public and the police are believed to be patrolling outside to stop anyone entering.

READ ALSO: Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Damaged roof in Paderborn

A damaged roof in the aftermath of the Paderborn storms. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

More frequent tornadoes? 

Tornadoes aren’t infrequent in Central Europe, but recently appear to be gaining in frequency and intensity, which experts suggest could be a result of climate change. 

In June 2021, a deadly tornado swept through several villages in the Czech Republic near the Slovakian and Austrian borders, killing six people and injuring a further 200. 

At time, climatologists pointed out that until 2020, the Czech Republic only saw a handful of tornadoes each year – and most of them were relatively mild.

Speaking to WDR on Sunday, climate researcher Dr. Mojib Latif drew a direct parallel between warmer temperatures and more violent and regular storms.  

“In Germany there are approximately between 20 and 40 tornadoes per year,” he told the regional media outlet. “We have to reckon with that. As the climate gets warmer and thunderstorms become more violent, the frequency of tornadoes will also increase.”

However, some experts have been more cautious about drawing a direct link.

“That simply cannot be determined at the moment,” meteorologist Jürgen Schmidt told RND. 

Schmidt thinks the perception that tornadoes have increased in recent years could have a slightly more prosaic explanation.

The fact that people are able to record them on their smartphones and share these images more widely could contribute to this impression, he said. 

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