Storm Ylenia causes damage, travel chaos and flooding in northern Germany
People are facing delays and disruption to trains and flights, school closures, and widespread damage, as storm Ylenia rages across northern Germany. After a brief respite, the next storm, named Zeynep, is expected to hit on Friday afternoon.
Trains and flights cancelled as Storm Ylenia hits Germany
Ylenia, the first of two storms forecast to hit Germany this week (called Storm Dudley elsewhere in Europe), arrived in force in the early hours of Thursday morning, with wind speeds of up to 152 kilometres per hour recorded by the German Weather Service (DWD) on the peak of the Harz mountains.
People are being warned to stay at home as much as possible, and to keep a distance from buildings, scaffolding, power lines and wooded areas like forests and national parks. The General German Automobile Club (ADAC) has also advised people against driving unless strictly necessary.
The northern and eastern parts of Germany are particularly affected by the disruption. Deutsche Bahn announced on Wednesday morning that it was battling with serious problems. “In the northern half of the country, no long-distance trains are running until midday,” a spokesperson told dpa. This affects passengers in Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin and Brandenburg. Anyone due to travel before Saturday can cancel their tickets free of charge, or use them flexibly until February 26.
Airports in Germany are also experiencing delays. Lufthansa confirmed on Wednesday morning that 20 flights had been cancelled due to the weather, but said that it was working hard to minimise disruptions. It said connections from its main hub in Frankfurt to Berlin, Hamburg and Munich were worse affected.
Widespread damage, but no injuries so far
While emergency services are on high alert across the northern half of the country, and have attended numerous incidents, no major damage has so far been reported. There have been reports of trees falling on roads and buildings, and a drive-in coronavirus test centre in North Rhine-Westphalia was destroyed by high winds, but thankfully so far nobody has been seriously injured.
Primary and secondary schools remain closed in North Rhine-Westphalia, and in several regions of Lower Saxony and Bavaria. After receiving more calls than it could process simultaneously, the fire brigade in Berlin declared a state of emergency. In parts of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, thousands of households were left temporarily without electricity after trees fell on the lines.
In Hamburg, the Fish Market at St Pauli was flooded early on Thursday morning, to a height of 1,98 metres above the mean high water level. There was also a storm surge of 1,5 metres in Husum in Schleswig-Holstein.
Storm Zeynep will reach northern Germany on Friday
According to the DWD, Storm Ylenia should gradually blow itself out over the course of Thursday, but people in northern Germany can only look forward to a short break in the wind. The next patch of bad weather, named Zeynep (or Storm Eunice outside of Germany), is expected to arrive from the UK as early as Friday afternoon.
The DWD expects the northern half of the country to once again be worst affected by the second storm, but the forecast isn’t entirely certain. “The models still have very different simulations,” said spokesperson Andreas Friedrich.