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Hundreds of drivers spend night on Autobahn as Germany’s snow chaos continues

Long traffic jams built up on motorways in several regions of Germany due to the freezing conditions, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their cars.

Hundreds of drivers spend night on Autobahn as Germany's snow chaos continues
A traffic jam near Bielefeld on Monday evening. Photo: DPA

The worst log jam came on the A2 motorway outside Bielefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia where an enormous 37 kilometre line of traffic built up on both sides of the road on Monday night. The queues stretched all the way into the state of Lower Saxony and had still not been cleared by Tuesday morning.

The A2 was blocked in both directions due to trucks coming to a standstill in the snow and not being able to get out. Police reported that hundreds of drivers had to spend the night in their cars.

Video footage showed shivering drivers huddled in their vehicles, complaining of going for hours without food as temperatures plunged to minus 12 degrees Celsius.

“The whole situation is tough, we are trying to work on a solution,” a police spokesman said on Tuesday morning.

In Bielefeld, a man was found dead on a snow-covered road on Monday, though emergency services said initial findings suggested he had suffered a medical emergency.

IN PICTURES: Snow and bitterly cold temperatures hit Germany

Another scene from the A2 near Bielefeld. Photo: DPA

Further down the A2 at Dortmund the motorway was also blocked after hundreds of haulage trucks broke the law banning them from driving after 10 pm and got stuck in the snow. 

“The police registered 350 breaches of the law,” a spokesperson confirmed.

There was also traffic jams in Brandenburg, where two lorries slid across the slippery surface of the A10. Both lorries were jammed perpendicular to the road and could no longer move.

Good news came for drivers who had been stuck on a stretch of the A4 in north Hesse for 15 hours. Police reported that the road there had been cleared. But traffic was still moving slowly while police moved from truck to truck waking drivers who’d fallen asleep.

Major transport problems

Intercity train travel meanwhile continues to be heavily restricted. There are no services from Hamburg to Munich, or Hamburg to Cologne.

The train service connecting Saxony’s two major cities – Dresden and Leipzig – is also closed.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, some 20 car accidents were reported during a day of heavy snowfall. Fortunately, only one injury was reported.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer appealed to people in northern and central Germany to stay at home until at least Wednesday. 

“In such extreme conditions, even the best gritting vehicles will reach their limits,” the CSU politician said on Tuesday. 

“We are working on all fronts to ensure that we get the north-south roads free – so that we can at least drive with restrictions,” he said.

“A new weather front is forming: a small one, but it's very fierce,” Scheuer said. “On Tuesday and Wednesday we will get a lot of snow on the Baltic Sea and near Rügen, along with stormy conditions.”

Enjoying the snow on the Maschsee in Hannover. Photo: DPA

In much of Germany though, snow will give way to frost in the coming days. In central and eastern Germany, night frost of -18C will not be uncommon, weather forecaster Martin Jonas predicts.

With the wind chill factor, temperatures could feel as low as minus 30 degrees at night, forecasters have said.

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WEATHER

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After days of summery weather, temperatures in Germany are set to peak at around 30C this week before a cooler spell over the weekend.

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After a long spell of sunny weather, most parts of Germany could see summer arrive early this week with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – but the hot weather may not last long, according to meteorologists.

Heat and sunshine should last through the middle of the week but suddenly give way to cooler temperatures over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) predicts.

On Tuesday, most regions see temperatures in the mid to high 20s and a continuation of the dry weather of the past week. In the northeast, including Berlin, the mercury could reach 28C, and temperatures are likely to be between 22C and 28C across western and central areas.

Those in higher altitude regions of the south and those along the north coast should be the only people needing their rain jackets as this part of the country could see scattered showers and clouds, according to DWD.

Wednesday is the day to plan a lake trip as this is likely to be the hottest day of the week. 

Most parts of the country will stay sunny and dry throughout the day and people can expect summery temperatures of between 24C and 30C.

For those on the north coast, it’s likely to be a little chillier, with temperatures of around 15C and partly overcast skies.

Thursday and Friday are likely to bring with them cooler temperatures, with the hot spell giving way to scattered showers and clouds in many regions over the weekend.

On Saturday, southern regions will see highs up of up to 23C while the northern regions will slip down to 18C during the day.

But anyone planning to be out and about on Saturday evening in the south should bring a warm jacket as the mercury could drop as low as 4C. 

Sunny weather Standbad Lübars

A woman enjoys the warm weather at Standbad Lübars in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

Northern regions ‘too dry’ 

Though most people have been thrilled to see a warm burst of sunshine in the middle of spring, climate experts have been voicing concern about the uneven rainfall across the country.

In an analysis published on the DWD website, the meteorologists claimed that the northern and eastern parts of Germany have been “clearly too dry” in the past weeks.

“A first glance at the current map already reveals that the regional differences of April have continued in May,” they wrote. “In almost all regions of the northern half and in some parts of the centre, hardly more than 10 and in many places not even 5 litres of rain per square-metre fell in the first days of May.”

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

Though experts had predicted low rainfall, the first 10 days of May have been even drier than predicted.

The lack of rainfall has caused groundwater to dry up significantly, sparking fears of forest fires and drought over summer.

Though more rainfall could come at the end of May, the Weather Channel’s Jan Schenk believes the probability of an overly dry summer is now “very high”.

Schenk believes that predictions for rainfall could have overestimated the amount of precipitation by up to 50 litres per square metre in some areas. This is a reason for households to start saving water now, he told HNA

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