Winter Storms Cause Traffic Chaos in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 22.12.2001
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Winter Storms Cause Traffic Chaos in Germany

Thousands of people were snowed in on Germany's highways. Their cars got stuck and they had to spend the night in their vehicles in the freezing cold.


Trucks trapped in ice and snow on the 'Autobahn' in Bavaria.

In Germany temperatures plummeted below freezing Friday night. Snowfall, sleet and ice caused havoc on Germany's highways.

Police say the weather conditions caused hundreds of road accidents. Two people died in North Rhine-Westphalia and many were injured. Snow ploughs were out in most parts of the country.

Thousands of people who were trying to get home for the holidays were trapped in their cars. Many of them had no choice but to stay in their vehicles in the freezing cold all night. Icy wind kept blowing fresh snow onto the roads and snow ploughs simply couldn't get through to clear the streets.

Schneechaos auf der A9

Volunteer helpers share a laugh with a truck driver trapped on the snow on the Autobahn on Saturday.

Rescue workers relentlessly tried to clear the roads and get cars that had gotten stuck moving again. They handed out blankets and hot tea to people whose cars couldn't move. The situation was especially critical for families with small children.

Stuck for 20 hours

On the 'Autobahn' between Frankfurt and Cologne, the traffic jam was 50 kilometers (31 miles) long throughout the night. Between Nuremberg and Hof in Bavaria, traffic backed up for 150 kilometers (93 miles).

Some people were stuck in their cars for more than 20 hours. In many cases they ran out of gas during the night and couldn't keep the motor and the heater running. Police and the German Red Cross opened up emergency shelters in gymnasiums and public buildings near the highways.

The bad weather also affected air traffic. Flights were cancelled or delayed at a number of airports. Saturday morning, Frankfurt airport reported that things were getting back to normal. There were some delays but no further flights were cancelled.

Meteorologist are predicting a White Christmas for most of Germany.

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