Heavy snow creates chaos in southern Germany and Austria

Nature and Environment

'Snow chaos'

For days, the German state of Bavaria has been inundated by massive amounts of snow. Munich police urged drivers to deal with the snow covering their vehicles or face potential fines after tweeting a picture of a car (not this one!) shrouded in ice at a stoplight. German media has dubbed the extreme weather phenomenon "Schneechaos" — or snow chaos.

Nature and Environment

Helping out

In Berchtesgaden, a town in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border, Germany's armed forces — the Bundeswehr — had to deliver much-needed supplies in the middle of the night. The reason: the road to the village was cut off by the sheer amount of snow fall. As such, the military had the only transport vehicles able to reach the area. Local tram services were also in no state to run.

Nature and Environment

Snow pyramid

A festive pyramid diorama was covered in snow in Schönheide, a town near the Czech border in eastern Germany. Snow plows have been pressed to find places to pile the snow from the street after a blizzard powdered the Ore Mountains.

Nature and Environment

Roof brigade

Firefighters dislodged piles of snow from a roof in the western Austrian town of Mariazell. Since January 5, around 3,700 firefighters have been called upon in the Austrian state of Styria to help deal with the flurry.

Nature and Environment

Stuck

For some, the snow kept them from reaching home. Hundreds of drivers had to sleep in their vehicles overnight after being trapped on the highway between Munich and Salzburg. In an editorial, the conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said climate change may be a contributing factor to the "chaotic amounts of snow" and shows how quickly areas can be changed by its effects.

Nature and Environment

Air support

A "Super Puma" helicopter was prepared for takeoff in a parking lot in Schönau am Königsee, a town in southeast Bavaria. The helicopters were used to blow snow from trees and onto roads to prevent trees and their branches from falling onto cars passing by.

Nature and Environment

Emergency work

A fireman cleared off snow from a roof in the Berchtesgaden region of Bavaria near the Austrian border. More than 1,000 emergency workers were dispatched to Upper Bavaria to deal with the snow.

Nature and Environment

More warnings

But Bavaria wasn't the only place in Germany to be affected by the snowfall. North of Bavaria in the German state of Thuringia, park authorities warned people against entering forests, saying enormous snow loads threatened to bring down numerous trees. Several roads were also closed by deep snow and fallen trees.

Nature and Environment

Snow day

While not nearly as chaotic as Bavaria and Thuringia, the German state of Baden-Württemberg received plenty of snow too. In Stuttgart, buildings were covered by the white powder frost, while in some parts of the state, school children were allowed to take the day off.

Nature and Environment

Freezing neighbors

For days now, Austrian authorities have issued avalanche warnings for its Alpine slopes. At least eight people have been killed by weather-related incidents. In some cases, rescuers have had to save people stranded in cut-off areas. On Thursday, nine tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary had to be rescued after venturing off-piste in the Zell am See resort area.

Nature and Environment

Elsewhere in Europe

While Germany and Austria have received a lot of extreme weather coverage, that doesn't mean other parts of Europe weren't inundated by snowfall. As far south as Greece, refugee children took it as an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a snowball or two. Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy and Turkey also received their share.

Snowfall has created chaos in Bavaria and neighboring areas with no sign of letting up. From falling tree warnings to major transport disruption, DW takes a look at the extreme weather phenomenon crippling the south.