OFFENBACH / BERLIN Thunderstorms, heavy rains and hurricanes have caused severe damage in parts of Germany. This initially hit North Rhine-Westphalia in particular: between 30 and 40 people were injured in the Paderborn area, according to police, of which at least ten were seriously injured. The German Weather Service (DWD) has received several reports of suspected tornadoes, a DWD spokesman said. However, these reports still require verification. There were restrictions on long-distance transport via Deutsche Bahn. In North Rhine-Westphalia, heavy rains and hurricanes caused chaos, especially in Lippstadt and Paderborn. “During a Friday afternoon lightning storm, a tornado cut a path of destruction from west to east through the center of Paderborn towards the eastern parts of the city,” police said in the early evening. Officials have reported millions of damages. After the storm, shocked tenants in Paderborn threw tiles from the damaged roofs into the garbage in the evening. In an industrial area, halls were ripped off the roofs, and sheets and insulation were flown for kilometers, police said. The fire department also reported a suspected tornado in Lippstadt some 35 kilometers away which caused severe damage. A spokesman for the fire department said roofs and fallen trees were damaged across the city. Windows were shattering and cars were smashed by falling branches. Some trees were already bent to the trunk, reported the municipality of Altenbeken near Paderborn – as if struck by a giant’s hand. A spokesman for the NRW Interior Ministry said there were no known sites other than Paderborn and Lippstadt that had been hit in a similar fashion. In parts of the federal state, the DWD issued an official severe weather warning due to severe thunderstorms following the Emmelinde lowlands. Meteorologists later extended the alert to parts of Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Bavaria, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, and Baden-Württemberg. The line between Paderborn and Altenbeken had to be closed due to branches and trees on the tracks. Regional and long-distance traffic will suffer, trains will be redirected, said the spokesman for the railways. On the Cologne – Wuppertal – Dortmund / Hamm route, the ICE and IC trains between Cologne and Dortmund were diverted via Düsseldorf. On the long distance route between Cologne / Düsseldorf and Berlin, there were no ICE trains between Bielefeld and Hanover due to an ambulance doctor. It was not immediately known whether the operation was related to the storm. In Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, despite severe storms, there was no major damage until evening. Police and rescuers reported single fallen trees, damage to cars due to hail and flooding of cellars. Initially, there were no reports of injuries. Even before the storm started, there were disturbances in many places in Germany at the beginning of the weekend. According to the district authorities, school lessons in the district of Cologne ended at 11.30 am so that the students could safely return home. In Rhineland-Palatinate, all schools sponsored by the Ahrweiler district remained closed. In mid-July 2021, 134 people were killed in floods in the Ahr Valley after extreme rainfall and thousands of homes were destroyed. To this day, many people live in alternative neighborhoods. Many events were canceled just in case. The thanksgiving ceremony planned in Bad Münstereifel with Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelka for helpers in the flood last July has been canceled. In Cologne, incl. the zoo and forest botanical garden as well as cemeteries should remain closed to visitors from the afternoon. Fun fact: In Solingen, the Christmas market, which has been canceled due to the corona virus, is only to be postponed to Saturday, one day later than planned. Heavy thunderstorms had already passed through West Germany on Thursday, but the damage was slightly less severe than feared. At times, rail traffic to the Netherlands was intermittent. There were also severe storms in the north. Storms and gusts of wind triggered hundreds of fire operations in Lower Saxony. And it should be: The German Weather Service is expecting a storm in the south on Saturday night. Otherwise, storms should move towards Poland and the weather will calm down from the west. On Saturday, there may still be single short thunderstorms in the northeast in the north-east that will subside in the afternoon.
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