Central and southern Germany are being hit by storm ‘Gertrude’ this afternoon, bringing heavy snow and ‘heavy ice’
A man died in Mecklenburg-Pomerania when he was run over by a vehicle which swerved due to the slippery road, at Frankfurt airport hundreds of take-offs were canceled due to “freezing rain”, many schools remained closed, and plans for strike action as central and southern Germany are hit by storm ‘Gertrude’ in the afternoon, bringing heavy snowfall and ‘heavy layers of ice’.
According to the Federal Weather Service (DWD), the effects will continue and are expected to gradually dissipate from Thursday afternoon. Until then, authorities are warning citizens of the affected regions of Saarland, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria to be extremely cautious and to postpone non-essential road or rail travel. Indicatively, in the state of Saarland alone, more than 100 traffic accidents had been recorded by the afternoon. Roads and sidewalks have become extremely slippery and dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.
In many areas of Bavaria and Hesse, schools have only operated online, and the same will likely happen tomorrow, in addition to areas of North Rhine-Westphalia.From midday onwards, Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt, temporarily suspended its operation, with the most serious problem concerning take-offs, as, as explained by the management company Fraport, the special machines could no longer safely defrost the aircraft before take-off, due to the freezing rain. “An aircraft must be absolutely free of snow and ice when taking off, otherwise it loses its aerodynamics. Safety here always comes first,” explained a representative of the company and added that all parking spaces at the airport were full. Flight cancellations at Frankfurt airport and, secondarily, at Munich airport, resulted in delays and problems at the rest of the country’s airports as well.
The railway, although operating normally, is under heavy strain due to the problems at airports and roads, while the German Railways (DB) has imposed a speed limit of 200 km/h for the high-speed trains (ICE), which has inevitably led to delays. Temporary service disruptions were recorded in the late afternoon in the Frankfurt and Mainz area, while services to Paris were also cancelled. There were also problems in the circulation of regional trains, buses and trams in the affected areas.
According to German public broadcaster ARD’s first channel meteorologist Tim Steger, cold polar air from the north meets warmer and moister air from the south – a condition which is occurring in this form, he said, for the first time since 1987 As he mentioned, this “conflict” could last hours, and bring with it heavy rains, but also a “thick layer of ice” on the road. This extreme situation is expected to gradually ease from Thursday evening, however, low temperatures and slippery conditions will remain. DWD is also warning of “extreme ice accumulation” on trees and overhead lines and the risk of cracks in frozen spots, and is appealing to the public to be extra careful when traveling.
The unfavorable weather conditions also resulted in the change of the planning of today’s (Wednesday) planned mobilization of the union IG Metall at a factory of the Ford car manufacturer in the area of Hallen. Instead of gathering in front of the factory gate, a gathering of workers took place in a closed area. “We don’t want to put our colleagues at risk, however cars are not being built,” a union spokesman said.
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