Germany orders drivers to slow down on Autobahns over fears roads will ‘blow up’ in heat

With temperatures up to 40C forecast, officials have placed speed limits on sections of Germany's famous Autobahn network over concerns the road could buckle in the heat.

Germany orders drivers to slow down on Autobahns over fears roads will 'blow up' in heat
A heat damaged section of the A5 in Heidelberg in 2015. Photo: DPA
The heatwave hitting Germany is not only causing problems for people – it is impacting roads too.
Experts fear sections of the highway could buckle in the heat, increasing the risk of accidents. That's why authorities have imposed speed limits on parts of the country's Autobahn, which is famous for having sections with no speed limit.
The damage – dubbed “blow-ups” by the German press – on the highways occur when extreme heat causes surfaces to buckle and rip. It can happen in older portions of the road network built with concrete. 
Several sections of the A9 and A38 in the south of eastern German state Saxony-Anhalt are subject to speed limits until further notice, according to the head of the state road construction authority, Uwe Langkammer.
These are precautionary measures to keep motorists safer in the event that the roads become damaged without warning. 
The A9 between the Schkeuditzer Kreuz and Halle is affected. A limit of 120 km/h has been put in place there.
A limit of 100 km/h has been set for the A9 towards Munich between Naumburg and Droyßig as well as around Weißenfels.
On the A38, motorists have to drive slower in both directions between Merseburg-Süd and Merseburg-Nord as well as towards Leipzig between Lützen and the border to Saxony.
More speed limits or measures could be set if the extreme heat continues. 
Extreme heat causes accidents
In June 2013 extreme heat triggered buckling in the country's Autobahn, and in one location in Bavaria a rip in the highway surface resulted in the death of a motorcyclist and injuries to several other motorists, reported Spiegel. Temperatures in the area had reached 34C.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 2015, heat caused a section of the A9 near Bad Dürrenberg in Saxony-Anhalt to become badly damaged. The section was closed for weeks as repairs got underway. 

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Weather: Germany sees extreme heat and storms

An extreme heat warning was in place for eastern Germany on Monday, while storms were also set to hit the country.

Weather: Germany sees extreme heat and storms

The German Weather Service (DWD) said temperatures could reach 36C on Monday. 

In the morning, the DWD issued an extreme heat warning for eastern regions, as shown below in the map. 

Map of Germany shows the heat warning in the east on Monday June 27th.

Photo: German Weather Service (DWD)

Forecasters said later on Monday, the south and east of the country would be hit by thunderstorms as well as large hailstones, strong winds and heavy rain.

READ ALSO: Germany sees record temperatures

In the north, west and centre of Germany, forecasters predicted clouds and some showers. Over the course of Monday, heavy thunderstorms with heavy rain, hailstones and strong winds are also possible in the north.

“Thunderstorms have occurred in the past few days and will continue in the coming days, as the established weather situation will remain virtually unchanged,” said a spokesperson from the DWD. 

However, the large temperature differences are striking: in the west of Germany, the mercury will only reach just above 20C in places.

Overnight to Tuesday, the DWD predicts thunderstorms – some of them heavy – from the Baltic Sea to the Alps, and later there is set to be more showers. It could still reach 28C in some places, especially in the east.

The DWD said: “The risk of thunderstorms will remain in the southern half of the country, while the northern half will calm down after the last thunderstorms have moved to Poland.

“This will change again on Wednesday night, when showers and thunderstorms, some of them thundery, as well as heavy rain will make their way north. On Wednesday, it will be quite unsettled with muggy temperatures almost all over the country.”

Forecasters said the weather will remain changeable for the rest of the week, but it should become more settled from next weekend.