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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

Will Germany see more snow this winter?

Over the weekend, large parts of Germany saw early snowfall, but will it continue throughout the winter?

Will Germany see more snow this winter?

Many parts of Germany experienced an early white Christmas over the weekend, as snow fell from Berlin to the Baltic Sea. Hesse also saw at least the first swirl of snowflakes and there was light snow in the Siegerland and the Hochsauerland districts of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Some areas of the country were hit particularly hard by the snow – a few centimetres of snow fell in Kassel, while large parts of Bavaria experienced heavy snowfall on Saturday.

READ ALSO: Surviving winter: 8 tips for enjoying the cold like a true German

There were also numerous accidents on icy roads in North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria. 

Will there be more snowfall this week?

Snowfall is expected at the beginning of the week in some areas in Thuringia and Saxony, while further south, there is likely to be snowfall only at high altitudes – such as in the Bavarian Alps.

Snow lies on the beach in Zingst, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Georg Moritz

In the coming days, temperatures will rise again and the weather will become milder. According to the German Weather Service (DWD) temperatures will hover between 5C and 12C for most of the country, while only the northeast and east see maximum temperatures of 0C to 4C.

Will there be more snow this winter?

2022 has already broken weather records in Germany – the period from January to the end of October was the warmest since weather records began almost 140 years ago.

READ ALSO: ‘A glimpse into our climate future’: Germany logs warmest October on record

Various weather models have already simulated the coming winter in Europe and Germany and provide estimations on how much warmer the coming winter is likely to be than from the years 1961 to 1990.

The models created by NASA, DWD, and the Climate Forecast System all agree that trend of rising temperatures will probably continue over the winter. Between December and February, it’s expected that the mercury will be between 1C and 3C higher than it was between 1961 and 1990. 

Meteorologist Corinna Borau from wetter.com told the Frankfurter Rundschau that she thinks that it’s extremely unlikely that there will be further snowfall in December in Germany.

“If the month looks rather dry and too mild overall, then we can’t expect large amounts of snow” Borau said. 

According to Borau, January is unlikely to be a “snow bomb” either, though it will still “feel like winter” and snow is only expected to fall sporadically. In February, however, the chances of snowfall are higher than in previous months.

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