Passengers in northern Germany face travel chaos due to storms

Passengers in several regions of Germany are facing massive delays and disruptions to rail and air transport on Thursday as gale-force winds tear through the country.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof delays
Passengers crowd next to the customer service point at Berlin Hauptbahnhof on Thursday, February 17th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

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.

READ ALSO: One person killed and several injured in train collision near Munich

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. 

Flight cancellations

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. 

Hamburg fish market floods

Hamburg fish market lies under water on Thursday morning. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

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. 

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: What’s going on with Germany’s weather right now?

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”.

READ ALSO: Gale force winds and flooding predicted for north Germany over weekend

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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