Storm halts rail, air travel in Germany

Waves and spray of the North Sea hit the harbor pier during the storm “Ylenia” in Buesum, northern Germany, on early February 17, 2022. – A heavy storm blew across Germany in the night of February 16 to 17, 2022, causing widespread disruption to train services and flights. (Photo by DANIEL REINHARDT / AFP)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AFP) — A heavy storm swept across Germany on the night of Wednesday into Thursday, grounding flights and trains and forcing schools in several states to close.

Police warned residents to stay home and avoid parks or forests, as gale-force winds whipped in from the north of the country.

The strongest winds were felt on Brocken, the highest point in the Harz highlands in central Germany, with speeds of up to 152 kilometres (94 miles) per hour.

Long distance trains were halted throughout northern Germany including in Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen until midday on Thursday at the earliest, the national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said.

Significant cancellations and delays were also expected on regional services.

The airline Lufthansa cancelled 20 flights destined for Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, departing from Frankfurt, the country’s largest airport.

Travellers were encouraged to consult the company’s website to see the status of their flight.

The storm, which was raging over the north of Hesse, Saxony and southern Brandenburg in the east and central part of the country on Thursday, is expected to persist through Friday.

New hurricane-force gales are expected in the night to Saturday in northern and central Germany.

© Agence France-Presse