Rail travellers in the north have been hit by massive restrictions due to the current storm, dubbed Storm Ylenia.
In large parts of Germany, operations are severely restricted, a railway spokesman said on Thursday morning. “In the northern half of the country, no long-distance trains are running until midday,” they told DPA.
This affects passengers in Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Berlin and Brandenburg.
There has also been a spate of train cancellations and delays in regional traffic. In Lower Saxony, no train services are possible south of Hamburg due to the havoc wreaked by the storm.
Further disruptions are to be expected due to the ongoing storm, the spokesperson said, adding the Deutsche Bahn was seeking to minimise delays.
The rail operator has recommended that all passengers postpone travelling where possible, since the disruptions in the north are affecting most services around the country.
Tickets for Thursday, Friday or Saturday will remain valid for one week, according to Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauß. Passengers can take any available train to their destination within this time.
Meanwhile, numerous flight cancellations have also been announced.
Germain flight operator Lufthansa has grounded 20 flights but is not cancelling any further connections for the time being, a spokesperson confirmed on Thursday morning.
At Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt, connections to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg are affected, according to the operator. At Hamburg airport, around a dozen flights have been cancelled.
In the Hanseatic city, the fish market was flooded in the morning.
On the North Sea coast, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) reported a storm surge from 1.5 metres above normal water levels. A severe or very severe storm surge is generally considered to involve surges of over 2.5 or 3.5 metres.
In Schleswig-Holstein, coastal towns were also hit by storm surges. In Husum, for example, meteorologists measured waters levels of 1.64 metres above average. At many other gauges, however, the water levels remained below the level of a storm surge – though the BSH has warned of increased water levels in the afternoon.
State of emergency
Early on Thursday morning, fire brigades and police control centres were deployed in numerous areas to deal with the fall-out from the storm, though there have no reports of major damage for the time being.
In the German capital, the Berlin fire brigade declared a state of emergency.
The storm also left its mark in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In Kleve on the Lower Rhine, the tent of a Covid-19 test station was destroyed, while in Wuppertal, a 40-metre-high tree fell onto the tracks of the suspension railway during the night.
School lessons were also cancelled for Thursday throughout the state. In other regions such as Lower Saxony and Bavaria, schoolchildren may also be asked to remain home due ongoing weather hazards.
More storms expected on Friday
According to the German Weather Service (DWD), the wind from Storm Ylenia will slowly decrease from Thursday afternoon – but the period of calm is not likely to last.
The next storm – which meteorologists have named Zeynep – is expected to arrive from Britain as early as Friday afternoon.
According to the DWD, the northern half of the country will once again be the most affected, though the exact fallout is hard to predict.
“The models still have very different simulations,” said press spokesman and meteorologist Andreas Friedrich on Wednesday.
At the end of January, Storm Nadia swept across northern and eastern Germany with dangerous gusts and caused millions of euros’ worth of damage. According to DWD meteorologist Andreas Friedrich, peak winds remain at the lower end of that seen during Storm Nadia.
In his view, however, the current situation is more explosive “because this time we have a chain of storm lows”.