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WEATHER

Transport disruption as storms and snow hit southwest Germany

On Thursday night, heavy snowfall and strong winds caused considerable problems for road and rail traffic in the south and southwest of Germany and restrictions were still in place on some Deutsche Bahn routes on Friday.

Transport disruption as storms and snow hit southwest Germany
An overturned bus in a field next to the B10 near Baden-Württemberg, Tomerdingen. Source: DPA

Train and car drivers in many German states have managed to cope with the treacherous weather conditions of snow, ice and storms. Most people have remained unaffected, although there were injuries as a result of a bus crash. This winter interlude should, however, not last too long.

A bus carrying tourists from Croatia was caught by strong winds on an icy road and overturned in Ulm, injuring eight people – two of them severely.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, a motorist died in an accident on a slippery road. According to police stations in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria, the situation had calmed down by the early morning. 

Warmer over the weekend

However, the revival of winter will not last long: according to the German Weather Service (DWD), it will be significantly warmer over the weekend. 

In other parts of the country, emergency services were called to attend numerous incidents during the night; mostly fallen trees, street signs or fences. Most of the other accidents caused only minor injuries.

Commuters and train passengers in Baden-Württemberg will still have to put up with regional traffic restrictions as, according to Deutsche Bahn, the Black Forest Railway between Triberg and Villingen-Schwenningen and the connection between Schrozberg (Schwäbisch Hall district) and Franconian Niederstetten were still closed on Friday morning. 

A train in Munich battles heavy snow. Source: DPA

Passengers in the Franconian town of Leutershausen had to wait an hour as their IC train was stopped on the open track between Nuremberg and Stuttgart on Thursday evening, due to a tree that had fallen on the railway lines. 

There  were also several closures along long-distance routes on Thursday evening due to snowfall and strong winds between Offenburg and Freiburg and between Nuremberg and Würzburg. The route between Salzburg and Rosenheim was temporarily without electricity, causing delays.

In contrast, regional trains in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland have almost returned to normal service. Most routes which were impeded by the storms are now open again, said a spokesman for the Deutsche Bahn on Friday morning.

The 48-year-old driver and a 53-year-old passenger were seriously injured in the bus crash on the B10 near Ulm and the B10 had to be completely blocked for many hours. 

According to the authorities, the road could not be completely cleared until later in the morning. Two heavy-duty cranes were needed to salvage the wreckage and the incurred damage is estimated at around €200,000.

A 21-year-old driver died in a car crash near Wolken in the Mayen-Koblenz district. According to initial police reports on Thursday afternoon, she came out of her lane and likely collided with the oncoming car of a 60-year-old. 

Treacherous conditions for drivers in Baden-Württemberg. Source: DPA

On Autobahn 48 near Ulm in Rhineland-Palatinate, several trucks started to roll and turned sideways, resulting in traffic jams in both directions on Thursday, a spokesman for the motorway police in Mendig reported.

Heavy snowfall and icy roads caused numerous emergency service call-outs in the district of Würzburg. The Region’s Bavarian Red Cross branch reported accidents and storm-related injuries. 

In Hesse, snowfall and slippery roads caused motorists to skid in rush hour. A police spokesman reported particularly severe traffic problems on major roads in Hochtaunuskreis, where there were a number of accidents caused by skidding. 

The majority of incidents involved only sheet metal damage, although the police spokesman also reported several minor injuries. It was also icy and slippery on many streets in central and eastern Hesse, especially in the higher regions.

Translated by Sarah Magill

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DISCOVER GERMANY

8 of the coolest places in Germany to visit on hot summer days

If you've had enough of the hot weather in Germany, here are a few places you can go to cool down (and discover more of the country).

8 of the coolest places in Germany to visit on hot summer days

Let’s face it: some of us are just not built for the heat. So when temperatures in Germany climb to the late 20s, above 30 – or even just under 40C – there is only one place we want to be: the fridge. 

But there are a few other spots where you can seek shelter from the sweltering heat. With temperatures this week set to climb above 30C in some parts of the country, here’s a look at the areas you can stay cool in and see the sights of Germany. 

READ ALSO: Weather – Germany sees record temperatures

Swim in the sea

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that temperatures are usually cooler by the coast thanks to the sea breeze. 

So we’d recommend heading to a coastal resort in Germany to cool down. At the popular Baltic Sea islands like Rügen, temperatures rarely climb above 25C which is more manageable than the extreme heat that often hits the inland regions. 

READ ALSO: Which regions in Germany have the best (and worst) weather?

Best of all, the Ostsee water temperature is around 17-18C in June, July and August, and it even drops below 15C from September. Perfect for those who like a refreshing dip.

Alternatively you could head to the North Sea coast or islands like Sylt or Juist. The water there is usually a few degrees cooler than at the Baltic Sea. 

A swimmer bathes in the Baltic Sea near Timmendorfer Strand in Schleswig-Holstein.

A swimmer bathes in the Baltic Sea near Timmendorfer Strand in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Get lost in the Oppenheim cellar maze (Kellerlabrynth)

One way to escape the heat is to explore what Germany has to offer below street level. Oppenheim in Rhineland-Palatinate has an amazing network of cellars that people can check out with guided tours. Also known as the ‘city under the city’, visitors can descend several storeys down to a depth of 500 metres, and learn all about the history of the cellar system which dates back hundreds of years.

The temperature is a constant and cool 17C so there’s no chance of overheating. 

The cellar labyrinth in Oppenheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) under the old town

The cellar labyrinth in Oppenheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) under the old town is a great place to cool down and get a history lesson. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Fredrik von Erichsen

Head to the Dechen Cave (Dechenhöhle) in the Sauerland

One of the most beautiful caves on display in Germany, the Dechenhöle in the Sauerland’s Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia is well worth a visit. 

Around 360 metres of the 870 metre long cave have been arranged for visitors to explore, and the light shows look mesmerising. The cave was discovered by two rail workers in 1868 who dropped a hammer into a rock crevice. When they were searching for the tool, they discovered the entrance to the dripstone cave. 

The temperature of the caves is around 10C all year round so it’s ideal for cooling down. In fact, you’ll probably need a jacket.

The illuminated The Dechen Caves in March 2022.

The illuminated Dechenhöle in March 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen

Visit a salt mine (Salzbergwerk)

The Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden is the oldest active salt mine in Germany dating back to 1517, but it’s also a unique experience for tourists deep in the Bavarian Alps.

Hop on a miners’ train and travel 650 meters into the mountain, where you’ll find a large salt cathedral and a miner’s slide. The experience includes 3D animations depicting the mining of salt, as well as a boat trip across the underground salt lake. 

READ ALSO: Nine of the best day trips from Munich with the €9 ticket

Explore Berlin underground

If you want to cool down, and learn all about the German capital’s history, dive into Berlin’s underworld and walk through the tunnels and vaults, as part of tours by Berliner Untervelten E.V.

A jackets or a cosy jumper is recommended: the temperature is usually between 8 and 12C.

Explore the Berlin U-Bahn out of the heat.

Explore hidden parts of the Berlin U-Bahn and underground system of tunnels out of the heat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

Drop into the ice cellar (Eiskellar) in Altenberge

This museum is the former ice-storage and fermentation cellar of the old Beuing Brewery in Altenberge. It showcases the history of the small town in the Münsterland region, and has an eerily beautiful setting. It was once one of the largest underground refrigerators in Europe with temperatures of around 8-10C.

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Take a dip in a very cold lake

Getting into any water is a great way to cool down during the hot summer months. But you could take it a step further and head to a very cold lake. 

Funtensee is a karst lake (which means it formed after caves collapsed) on the Steinernes Meer plateau in the stunning Berchtesgaden National Park, and the area is known for low temperatures. In fact, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Germany was on December 24th, 2001, when the mercury dropped to -45,9C at the Funtensee measuring station.

Luckily, it’s not that cold all year round but the water is still pretty chilly in the summer months at around 17 to 18C.

A view of the cold Funtensee.

A view of the cold Funtensee. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Florian Sanktjohanser

Meanwhile, the water temperature at Frillensee, also in Bavaria, doesn’t rise above 10C even in summer. Just dipping your big toe in very cold lakes is enough to cool off.

Climb (or take a cable car) up Germany’s highest mountain

Playing in snow and ice while others sweat? Yes, it’s possible, way up on the Zugspitze glacier, which is part of Germany’s highest mountain, standing at around 2,962 metres above sea level. We recommend taking a tour, which runs from the Sonnalpin glacier restaurant to the edge of the ice on the Northern Schneeferner. The tours are a free service from the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn.

People enjoy stunning weather on the glacier at the Zugspitze in May 2021.

People enjoy stunning weather on the glacier at the Zugspitze in May 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Visitors can take a train from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, or the station at Eibsee lake, which runs through the 4.5-km-long Zugspitze Tunnel before hopping on a cable car. If the mood takes you, you could also check out Germany’s highest church on the Zugspitz Plateau. The Maria Heimsuchung Chapel is a great place to reflect after a day of climbing and exploring the mountain.

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