Heavy snowfall paralyzes northern and central Germany | News | DW | 07.02.2021

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Heavy snowfall paralyzes northern and central Germany

Germany's central and northern areas have been hit hard by heavy snow and winter storms. Rail and road traffic in large parts of the country have been disrupted, and some Bundesliga football matches have been canceled.

German weather forecasters on Sunday said that the snowstorm is set to bring even lower temperatures in the coming week, as several parts of Germany were hit by extreme winter weather at the weekend.  

DWD, the German Weather Service, had issued an extreme weather warning, saying emergency crews had been put on standby.

DWD spoke of an "extraordinary onset of winter."

The snowstorm has affected northern central parts of Germany the most, with dense snow drifts, causing limited visibility, the DWD said.  

Local media reported dozens of injuries and traffic accidents around Germany. 

DW correspondent Jared Reed said the streets of Hanover in Lower Saxony appear to be empty. "There aren't many people braving the snow," Reed said. 

Several states in Germany have been covered with more than 20 centimeters of snow, with winds as strong as 80 kilometers per hour. 

The DWD forecasts more snowfall on Monday, and up to 40 centimeters of snow covering some parts in Germany.

Traffic, football matches disrupted

Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany's train operator, canceled several routes around the country, and has offered refunds in the affected regions.

"Due to snow in some parts of Germany, @DB_Presse @DB_Bahn is offering refunds for anyone who wants this weekend for affected regions," DW correspondent William Noah Glucroft wrote on Twitter.

Train connections with the Netherlands were suspended, and passengers said getting out of Berlin or Hamburg was particularly difficult, with many long-distance train journeys impossible due to heavy snow.

Rail links were also cancelled between Hamburg and Hanover, and Hamburg and North Rhine Westphalia, and the fast inter-city train from Bremen to Norddeich Mole was one of several long-distance connections in northern Germany that have been cancelled by Deutsche Bahn.

Police closed numerous slippery motorways as hundreds of accidents have been reported. In some places, cars were stuck in snowdrifts and buses came to a standstill.

Authorities said a total of 222 car accidents had been registered since Saturday across the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Bundesliga game between Arminia Bielefeld and Werder Bremen was called off hours before kickoff on Sunday due to a heavy snowstorm.

"Due to the heavy and prolonged snowfall combined with frost, it's not guaranteed that the game can be carried out properly,'' the German Football League (DFL) said in statement. "A new date for the game will be announced shortly.''

The second-division game between Paderborn and Heidenheim was also called off. 

Extreme weather to persist

Arctic weather patterns in the north led the DWD to issue its highest warnings for parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt on Saturday.

In Berlin, authorities opened more emergency homeless shelters ahead of the expected cold snap.

Black ice was forecast for parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia and Saxony.

Officials said southern Germany would see milder weather owing to low pressure over western Europe.

There were warnings of severe storms, gales and gusting winds near the Alps.

German federal police said people had largely complied with warnings for Saturday and avoided popular tourist destinations.

fb,jf, shs/ng (dpa, AP)