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In Kassel in Hesse, the operation of buses and trains had to be completely stopped due to the storm

Photo: Nicole Schippers / dpa

First oppressive heat, then heavy thunderstorms and heavy rain: In many parts of Germany, people had to contend with storms on Thursday – hailstones the size of golf balls fell, heavy rain flooded streets and basements. Major damage was not reported until the evening. It started in the afternoon in the west and parts of the southwest. Later in the evening, Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt were severely affected. For the night, the German weather service (DWD) warned as far as Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg of severe thunderstorms.

According to DWD information, the low should move eastwards over the middle of Germany in the evening and on Friday night – warnings were issued for severe thunderstorms and sometimes heavy rain lasting several hours. There could be up to 50 litres of precipitation per square metre in a short period of time. In addition to the heavy rain, severe squalls of up to 100 kilometers per hour and "large hail up to 5 cm grain size" are possible, it was said on Thursday evening.

An increase in extreme hurricane gusts of 140 kilometers per hour and very large hail of up to seven centimeters is "not completely excluded". Overall, however, a decrease in thunderstorm activity is to be expected in the course of the night.

Summer holidays start with storms – trees on overhead lines

With some heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, the storm had reached North Rhine-Westphalia – on the first day of the summer holidays, of all days. For large parts of Germany's most populous state, the DWD issued severe weather warnings. Several times, some very heavy rainfall swept over the region. Basements were full, streets were flooded – but by early Thursday evening, no major damage or reports of injuries had been reported.

In the Frankfurt suburb of Sindlingen, several trees fell on an overhead line near the train station. Several cars were severely damaged. "The people have been very lucky," said a fire brigade spokesman in view of the downright flattened vehicles in a residential area – it remained with property damage. In view of the large number of fire brigade operations, the emergency call was overloaded. A spokesman appealed to call only in real emergencies, waiting times had to be expected.

In the Upper Bavarian Valley, huge hailstones fell from the sky. Initially, the police were not aware of any damage. Elsewhere, too, there was a thunderstorm over Bavaria on Thursday evening. Initially, however, the police did not report any significant incidents.

Busy operations centers – canceled events

In the district of Harz, too, there were numerous flooded cellars due to the storm. The Integrated Control Center Harz spoke on Thursday evening of countless operations, an exact number could not be given at first. In addition to the flooded cellars, another focus of application is trees on roads.

Due to the storm, the organizers of the Full Force Festival near Gräfenhainichen in Saxony-Anhalt have canceled the warm-up party planned for Thursday. Safety is a top priority, it said in a statement. "Please make your campsites storm-proof, secure loose objects or dismantle them, and please don't build any more pavilions." In the event of a storm, participants should seek shelter in cars. By switching on the hazard warning lights, you can signal that there are still seats available in the car.

In Kassel in Hesse, the operation of buses and trains was completely stopped. This measure in the afternoon was chosen for safety reasons, the Kasseler Verkehrsgesellschaft (KVG) announced. "Stormy gusts, extreme rainfall and hailstorms, for example, had led to flooded roads and tracks, branches and trees that had fallen onto tracks or overhead lines, blocking the roads. There was damage to vehicles to an as yet unknown extent," says KVG.

Booked rail journeys can be postponed – train connection cancelled

"Repair crews and emergency vehicles are on standby to remove storm damage to overhead lines and obstacles in the track bed, such as fallen trees or parts of roofs, tarpaulins and debris," said a railway spokesman. Especially in the middle of Germany and in the north, there are delays and train cancellations, as the group announced on Thursday evening.

Anyone who has booked a train ticket for Friday can postpone the trip to a later date. "The train connection has been lifted. The ticket is valid for the journey to the original destination, even with a changed route. Seat reservations can be cancelled free of charge," the railway announced.