Storm – the worst is yet to come

Heavy rain flooded streets last night and filled cellars. Was it that now with continuous rain? Not at all, says the weather service DTN. One region in particular is getting it today.

This text appeared on Wednesday after heavy rain and thunderstorms had hit Saxony and northern Bavaria the night before. In the following hours, even more severe storms in western Germany were to claim numerous deaths and cause enormous damage. How this weather situation came about explains the former ZDF meteorologist Gunther Tiersch here in an interview.

There is lightning, it thunders, it pours like buckets. Heavy rain fell over parts of Germany last night and caused considerable damage in some cases. In the north of Bavaria, in Saxony, but also in North Rhine-Westphalia, roads turned into torrents, rivers burst their banks and cellars overflowed. The district of Hof in Bavaria declared the disaster. The fire brigade went out on hundreds of missions.

In Düsseldorf alone, 90 liters of rain per square meter have fallen since Tuesday, in southern Saxony-Anhalt and parts of Thuringia it was still 50 to 80 liters. Meteorologists warn that the end of the bar has not yet been reached. In the coming hours, the continuous rain will continue, especially in Rhineland-Palatinate and southern North Rhine-Westphalia – with even greater amounts of precipitation.

Heavy continuous rain from the Eifel to the Palatinate

It is not unusual that heavy rain accompanied by thunderstorms occurs at this time of the year. “We observe such events very often in summer. Most of the time it happens very locally because the weather is more limited at this time,” explains chief meteorologist Joachim Schug from the DTN weather service. For the next few hours, he sees the greatest danger in a strip from the Eifel to the Palatinate. “There you can expect continuous rain accompanied by thunderstorms and amounts of precipitation of 100 to 150 liters per square meter. That extends to the Netherlands and Belgium.”

In the evening and into the night, the continuous rain then spreads to the southwest of Germany to Baden-Württemberg, but becomes weaker in the process. “In the rest of the country it remains rather calm, in isolated cases there can also be thunderstorms. In the far north-east and south of Schleswig you probably won’t notice anything at all. There, up to 30 degrees are possible again.”

“The worst weather in all of Europe”

“Bernd,” says Schug with a wink, is to blame for the weather and the heavy rain. “The center of the low pressure area ‘Bernd’ lies above Lower Saxony and ensures that Germany has the worst weather in all of Europe. Everywhere else there is actually mostly nice summer weather.” Nevertheless, the meteorologist has observed longer-term changes in the climate. “Because of global warming, the air on and around our continent is warmer and can therefore absorb more water vapor. The climate is becoming more tropical, which means that larger amounts of rain can fall within a short period of time.”

Schug and his colleagues noticed something else: the thunderstorms are moving away more and more slowly. “Just a few years ago it was common for thunderstorms to move at a speed of around 50 kilometers per hour. But because the wind decreases at a height of three to five kilometers, that changes. Thunderstorms often only move in at 10 to 20 kilometers This has a combined effect: more water vapor in the air and thunderstorms that stay in one place longer. “

According to Schug, the reason for the decrease in wind at altitude is the dwindling temperature difference. “When it is less cold at the North Pole, the difference to the subtropics becomes smaller. Climate change is taking place in many small locations.”


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