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Germany: Heavy rains and flooding cause chaos

June 30, 2021

Almost no part of Germany has been left untouched by a high-intensity storm over the past few days. Rising temperatures may have played a role, experts have warned.

Emergency workers on a flooded street
The intense rainfall caused widescale disruption to public transportImage: Alexander Keutz TV-NEWS/dpa/picture alliance

The storms and heavy rains that have caused damage and disruption across Germany in the past few days are likely due to changes in the climate, the head of the Stuttgart branch of the German Meteorological Service said on Wednesday.

The extreme weather caused flooding in streets and basements as well as knocking down trees. Emergency services, from Schleswig-Holstein in the north to Bavaria in the south, responded to hundreds of call-outs.

Meteorologist Uwe Schickedanz told regional newspaper Südkurier that storms of this severity appeared to be more frequent.

"Thunderstorms thrive on the heat down low and the cold up high because the differences in temperature are so big," he explained. Rising temperatures, therefore, pose the risk of more intense storms.

Emergency services overwhelmed

The fire department in the central German city of Frankfurt am Main had to declare a state of emergency after receiving an overwhelming number of calls.

Rainfall reached up to 45 liters per square meter in some parts of the city, closing streets, filling basements and even impacting hospitals.

Traffic in the city of Essen
Floods caused chaos in the densely-populated Ruhr districtImage: Stephan Witte/KDF-TV & Picture/dpa/picture alliance

The most-populous state North Rhine-Westphalia was also affected. Emergency workers in the city of Krefeld received over 2,000 calls as basements and underground car parks were filled with water.

The town of Landshut in Bavaria was particularly badly hit. Officials reported torrential flooding on roads in some areas and "massive damage of property."

The old town of Landshut flooded on Tuesday evening
The old town of Landshut flooded on Tuesday eveningImage: Claudia Hagn/dpa/picture alliance

Deadly storm moves on

The storm also left casualties as many drivers lost control of their cars on flooded roads. A 23-year-old woman was killed when a 40-meter-tall tree fell onto her car in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg.

A fallen tree outside the Stuttgart Opera House
A fallen tree outside the Stuttgart Opera HouseImage: Marijan Murat/dpa/picture alliance

The German Meteorological Service said on Wednesday that the storm had died down in the south of the country as it headed north. Officials in the northeastern states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the city of Berlin all issued warnings.

The Czech Republic, which was hit by a tornado almost a week ago, was also affected by the storm. Some 145,000 houses were left without power, broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reported.

How green is Germany?

ab/rt (AFP, dpa)