Snowstorms, winter weather halt traffic, flights in Germany
Cities across Germany are submerged in snow. The arrival of winter weather has delayed departures by air, road and rail.
Standstill on the tracks
A number of rail lines around Bavaria's state capital, Munich, were closed during the heavy onset of winter. In Ulm and Munich, stranded passengers spent Friday night in trains, with the Munich Central Station inaccessible for hours. National rail provider Deutsche Bahn said delays would last into Monday.
For the narrow-gauge rail system in the central Harz mountain range, on the other hand, weather is rarely an issue. Here trains are still running, and even the line to the Brocken station, which, at 1,125 meters (3,690 feet) above sea level, is the country’s highest adhesion narrow-gauge railroad stop, has been cleared.
Parking has become a major challenge in Munich, where many cars are now under a thick blanket of snow. With thousands of drivers stuck in traffic jams on the highways around the city, the national motorists association, ADAC, has recommended that drivers temporarily refrain from nonessential travel.
Traffic chaos in Bavaria
The heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures have caused traffic jams, accidents and traffic chaos, especially in southern Germany. There were almost 100 traffic jams more than 10 kilometers long in Bavaria alone on Saturday morning, ADAC reported.
Air traffic is also taking a forced break. At Munich Airport, flights were suspended until 6 a.m. on Sunday. Allgäu Airport in Memmingen also suspended flight operations on Saturday because of the persistent snowfall. According to Lufthansa, the planes were diverted to Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
Slippery conditions for cyclists
German law requires urban areas to distribute gravel on main roadways to keep conditions safe for cyclists, but it still takes a hardy sort to venture out on two wheels in such weather.
Too much for the trees
Snowfall weighs down tree branches along a country road in the central western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where first responders have been deployed to clear the path. Authorities have also warned people against walking in the woods to avoid falling branches.
Snow-clearing vehicles are likely to be deployed around the clock in the coming days, with up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) of fresh snow expected in places such as the mountainous southern Allgäu region over the weekend. Northern regions haven’t been spared, either. Hamburg reported 5 centimeters of fresh snow, with more expected along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts.
A big start
Skiers' joy was short-lived: Just one day after the start of the season, lift operations on the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, were suspended because of heavy snowfall and avalanche danger. But operations are expected to resume on Sunday with the return of the sun, though temperatures will remain chilly, the German Weather Service said.
Temperatures dipped to -14 degrees Celsius (6 F) on the deserted Zugspitze on Saturday, and are predicted to drop even further on Sunday.
A few flakes for Berlin
Even the German capital saw a modest amount of snow, with about 2,300 emergency workers called out to clear roads and keep traffic moving.