"Stay home": Germany braces for more extreme winter weather this week

"Stay home": Germany braces for more extreme winter weather this week

Treacherous black ice, metre-high snow drifts and chilly temperatures: this weekend saw some pretty extreme weather in Germany. And it’s not over yet. Forecasters are predicting that the coming week will see more snow as the thermometer dips even lower. 

Extreme winter weather hits Germany

The German Weather Service (DWD) has spoken of an “extraordinary onset of winter” as parts of northern and central Germany shivered in snowstorms and gale-force winds this weekend. The extreme weather saw widespread disruption to transportation as roads were closed and train services cancelled. There were hundreds of traffic accidents and injuries in regions across Germany, and several football matches also had to be cancelled. 

The DWD had warned people that some extreme weather was heading for Germany, but things got off to a fairly slow start on Saturday, with just a few trains in northern Germany cancelled as a precaution. It was on Sunday, however, that the forecast chaos set in. 

Several states had more than 20 centimetres of snow, and winds as strong as 80 kilometres per hour caused metre-high snowdrifts. The emergency services were called out on countless rescue missions as motorways turned to skating rinks, cars got stuck in deep drifts of snow and trains were cancelled due to iced overhead lines. 

Roads closed and trains cancelled

Police closed numerous slippery stretches of motorway after hundreds of accidents were reported. In some places, passengers were left stranded for hours in traffic jams lasting for several kilometres. In Thuringia, one family was stuck trying to dig their car out of the snow for five hours. Public transport was suspended in a number of areas; in Braunschweig, a tram derailed in the snow. 

Deutsche Bahn was forced to cancel several routes across the country, as train connections with the Netherlands were suspended and long-distance trains between Hamburg and Hannover, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, and Bremen and Norddeich Mole were cancelled. DB was expecting the disruption to continue into Monday: "Snow and ice will affect DB's local and long-distance traffic in large parts of the country on Monday," a spokesperson said on Sunday evening. 

Cold temperatures continue this week

The harsh weather looks set to continue on Monday, with DWD warning of up to 25 centimetres of fresh snow in central Germany. Northeast Hesse, Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt will be particularly affected, but people in other federal states should also expect disruption as low temperatures make the conditions for travelling treacherous.  

“After the snowy and windy weekend, the “great cold” is coming from the east,” said the DWD meteorologist Simon Trippler on Sunday. Snow can still be expected, but not as heavy as on the weekend, and it should have mostly eased off by Tuesday - although the chilly temperatures look set to stay a little longer. In some areas, it might dip as low as -20 degrees at night. 

Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer advised those living in affected regions to stay home at the beginning of the week since it could not be guaranteed that rail traffic would be up and running again on Monday. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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