Berlin - The icy winter weather has significantly impacted travel both in Berlin as well as many regions of Germany.

No long-distance trains are running from Berlin to Hanover/Cologne, Erfurt, Frankfurt and Munich, Deutsche Bahn (DB) announced early Monday. Travelers should "check their connection before starting their journey," the railway said.

Berlin's S-Bahns are experiencing delays and some cancellations and the speed limit on the city's Autobahn is restricted at 60 due to the weather, according to the VIZ traffic information centre.

The Deutsche Wetterdienst meteorological service forecast continued icy conditions with up to 10 centimetres of fresh snow for Monday. Temperatures will be as low as -10 degrees and gusty winds will also lead to snow drifts, especially in the north of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Photo: dpa/Bodo Schackow
A worker from the technical assistance service (Technisches Hilfswerk) checks on truck drivers on the A4 near Gera.    

According to meteorologists, snowfall and wind will gradually decrease on Tuesday. The snowfall is expected to stop Wednesday. On both days, temperatures will be between -5 and -8 degrees.

The extreme winter weather is being felt on the rails. "Snow and ice will continue to affect DB's local and long-distance services in large parts of the country on Monday," Deutsche Bahn said Sunday evening.

The harsh winter conditions caused problems throughout Germany, sometimes even chaotic conditions. Highways have been blocked by stuck trucks in the north and east of Hesse on the A4 and A7.

"The situation is catastrophic," a police spokesman in Fulda said early Monday morning. Trucks and cars have been stuck in traffic jams in some areas for up to six hours, he said. Tow vehicles were barely able to get to critical areas to get traffic moving again.

Flooding too?

Truck traffic is currently forbidden in several regions and it's unclear when Autobahn traffic will return to normal, he said. 

On the A4 near Gera in Thuringia, trucks got stuck in snow drifts, causing a traffic jam of several kilometres. Towing services and plows had to free the trucks.

Life is easier in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, where traffic flowed freely on its numerous highways Monday morning.

"There were hardly any accidents. Everyone was very disciplined," said a spokesman for the Münster police. He added that the highways in the district were largely passable after the weekend's snow chaos. The disciplined traffic is being helped by a ban on trucks over 7.5 tonnes until noon. 

Lower Saxony has also banned trucks in Emsland, Osnabrück and Grafschaft Bentheim. Despite the ban, trucks may still be encountered on the Autobahn. "We can't completely prevent it," a spokesman for the Osnabrück police control centre said Monday morning. 

And, as if all that isn't enough, northern Germany is bracing for flooding from the Baltic Sea. A continuous easterly wind is pushing water to the coast, a meteorologist said. Water levels in Kiel bay are expected to rise by up to 80 centimeters on Monday, he said, and water in Lübeck bay is also rising significantly.

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