Flooding in Hamburg after hurricane-force winds hit German north coast

Low-lying streets in Hamburg were swamped by the rising waters of the river Elbe early on Sunday morning, as a fierce gale pummelled the north of Germany.

30.01.2022, Hamburg: The street at the fish market with the fish auction hall on the Elbe is under water during a storm surge. Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa
30.01.2022, Hamburg: The street at the fish market with the fish auction hall on the Elbe is under water during a storm surge. Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa

Several streets around Hamburg’s fish market were left under water in the early hours of Sunday, as the waters of the river Elbe surged to close to three metres over their usual high-water mark.

Cars were damaged, while rescue teams used the opportunity to go on exercise in the low-lying district.

Storm Nadia swept in from Scandinavia on Saturday evening, bringing with it hurricane-force winds.

At Kiel lighthouse a blast of 122 km/h was recorded. Fierce winds were felt all the way down to Berlin and Saxony in the east of the country.

Bild newspaper reported a fatality in Brandenburg, where a man was struck by a billboard that had been ripped up by the wind.

And Hamburg fire services were in constant operation, tackling over 300 call outs over the course of the night.

Saxony, Thum: The fire brigade clear a fallen tree that had fallen into an overhead power line on federal highway 95. Photo: Andre März/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

As water levels surged, a ship got caught under an autobahn bridge in the harbour, leading to a rescue operation in which two crew members were taken from the boat. 

Separately, a cargo ship was left flailing against the strong wind and waves around 16 nautical miles off the North Sea coast from Cuxhaven.

After the engine proved incapable of withstanding the storm, tug boats were sent out and after six hours, the ship was finally brought under control.

“If we had not intervened, the ship would have become a risk to the coast,”  a coast guard spokesperson said.

There were also massive disruptions to rail traffic in northern Germany due to the storm damage.

Early on Saturday evening, Deutsche Bahn suspended long-distance trains in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen.

Deutsche Bahn said a resumption of normal service was dependent on when the wind died back down.

The timeline for when the trains would run again as planned depended on the further course of the storm, a spokesperson for the railway said.

According to the Federal Maritime Agency, the North and Baltic Sea coasts could see more flooding during the day on Sunday. Dangerous tidal surges could also affect the Weser and Elbe river close to their mouths.

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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