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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel pledges ‘full support’ to flood victims during White House visit

Merkel's final trip to Washington D.C. was overshadowed by disastrous flooding in western Germany that saw more than 90 people lose their lives on Thursday. The Chancellor promised aid to those affected.

Merkel pledges 'full support' to flood victims during White House visit
Chancellor Merkel speaks at a conference with U.S. President Joe Biden on July 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Susan Walsh

“I grieve for those who’ve lost their lives, we don’t know the number but it will be many, some in the basements of their houses, and some who were working as firefighters trying to bring others to safety,” Merkel said in a press conference on Thursday. 

Describing the aid efforts, the German Chancellor promised that the government would help “in any way we can”.

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“These are horrific days for the people in the floodplains,” she said. “My thoughts are with you. And you can trust that every part of our state – from the federal, state and local governments – will do everything possible to save lives, avert dangers and alleviate hardship, even under the most difficult of conditions.”

“We will not leave them alone in this difficult, terrible hour and we will also help when it comes to rebuilding,” she said. 

Biden expressed his condolences in view of the many fatalities in the flood disaster.

United States and Germany remain ‘close friends’

The trip is likely to be Merkel’s last visit to the White House before she steps down in September at the end of a 16-year term as German Chancellor.

After a turbulent few years for German-American relations during Donald Trump’s presidency, the visit was partly an attempt to open a new chapter and reaffirm both countries’ commitment to the transatlantic partnership.

“We are not just allies and partners, but also close friends,” said Merkel on Thursday in Washington after a detailed conversation with Biden.

READ ALSO: ‘History’: Merkel visits White House for last time as Chancellor

Biden thanked Merkel for her “strong leadership role” over the past decade and a half.

“I know that the partnership between Germany and the United States will grow even stronger on the foundation that you helped to build,” he told her. 


Merkel and Biden discussed Nord Stream 2 and  the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions for people travelling from Germany to the United States. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Evan Vucci

In a ‘Washington Declaration’, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to “close bilateral cooperation in promoting peace, security and prosperity around the world”.

However, they continued to disagree over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, which Biden believes is being weaponised by Vladimir Putin. 

Covid travel restrictions could be eased

Biden announced that he will probably comment on the corona-related entry restrictions for people from Germany and other European Schengen countries in the coming days, after Merkel raised the issue.

Discussions are currently being held on how the travel restrictions could be lifted soon. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about travel between the US and Germany

“I’m waiting to hear from our people in our Covid team when that should happen,” Biden said. 

Before Merkel’s return to Berlin, the U.S. President and First Lady Jill Biden held a dinner in honour of the Chancellor, which Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer, also attended.

Biden wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening: “It was an honour to have my dear friend, Chancellor Merkel, in the White House.”

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WEATHER

‘Clear indication of climate change’: Germany logs warmest year on record

Looking at data from 2,000 measuring systems around Germany, the German Weather Service (DWD) said that 2022 marked the warmest year on record through November.

'Clear indication of climate change': Germany logs warmest year on record

“Never since 1881 has the period from January to November in Germany been so warm as in 2022,” said DWD spokesman Uwe Kirsche in a statement on Wednesday.

The average temperature for the first eleven months of 2022 was 11.3C, according to the weather service in Offenbach. The previous high was set in 2020, at 11.1C for this period. 

The temperature average for autumn alone was 10.8 degrees – an entire 2C degrees higher than it was between 1961 to 1990, which is used by meteorologists around the globe as a point of reference. 

Clear indication of climate change

The period from January to October was already the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 11.8C. For meteorologists, autumn ends with November, whereas in calendar terms, it lasts until December 21st. 

It is “a clear indication of climate change;” that the warmest October months of the last 140 years all fall in this millennium, said DWD.

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

Autumn 2022 could have easily been mistaken for summer in some regions of Germany, it said. The mercury reached the highest in Kleve on the Lower Rhine on September 5th, where temperatures soared to a sizzling 32.3C.

weather Germany september

Beach goers in Westerland, Schleswig-Holstein on September 25th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Rainy regions

The mild weather extended into November, before temperatures took a dramatic dip in many parts of the country. 

In the Oberharz am Brocken, the mercury dropped all the way to -11.6C on November 20th, the nationwide low for this autumn.

READ ALSO: Germany to see first snowfall after mild November

But despite the early warm spells, autumn was also “slightly wetter than average,” according to DWD. An average of around 205 liters of precipitation per squar metre fell across Germany.

That was about twelve percent more than in the reference period from 1961 to 1990. Compared to 1991 to 2020, the increase was about eight percent.

The Black Forest and the Alps received the most rainfall. Utzenfeld in the southern Black Forest had the highest daily precipitation in Germany with 86 litres per square meter on October 14th. In contrast, it remained very dry in the northeast. 

However, there were also a fair few bright, sunny days for people to enjoy. According to DWD, the sun shone for a good 370 hours this autumn – almost 20 percent more than in the period from 1961 to 1990 and 15 percent more than in the period from 1991 to 2020.

The North German Lowlands saw the most sun, with residents there getting a solid 400 hours of sunshine over autumn. 

Temperatures to drop this week

Just in time for the start of the meteorological winter on December 1st, temperatures will drop significantly into the low negatives in many parts of the country.

On the weekend, there is a risk of permafrost in some regions of eastern Germany. The nights will also become increasingly frosty, with snow expected in many regions by the end of the week.

Roads are expected to turn icy, but with no major snowstorms, said DWD.

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?

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