A suspected tornado caused massive damage in Lippstadt (NRW) on Friday afternoon around 5 p.m. The entire city area was affected, said a fire department spokesman. Numerous roofs were covered and trees fell on cars. However, according to previous reports, there were neither deaths nor injuries.

At times, around 120 bathers were trapped in the Cabrioli leisure pool in Lippstadt because fallen trees blocked the entrance. The trapped people were later freed, the fire brigade reported.

In the district of Hellinghausen, the top of a church fell down due to the storm. Around 200 to 300 firefighters are deployed. The Lippstadt fire brigade is supported by forces from several neighboring towns.

The task force in the Soester rescue center is pulling together forces from the region in Lippstadt, it said in a statement. The first thing to do is to get an overview of the damage.

With lightning, thunder and heavy rain, the storms expected for large parts of Germany came from the west on Friday. The thunderstorms caused by the “Emmelinde” low hit North Rhine-Westphalia first. For parts of the federal state, the German Weather Service (DWD) issued the first official severe weather warning in the early afternoon due to severe thunderstorms. The meteorologists later extended the warning to Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

A tornado is believed to have passed through Lippstadt. There was serious damage throughout the city, said a fire department spokesman. Numerous roofs were covered and trees fell on cars. He was not aware of any deaths, the spokesman said.

Even before the storm began, there were disruptions in many places in Germany at the start of the weekend. In some regions, classes were canceled on Friday – schools in the Cologne administrative district should close earlier. Individual events have been cancelled, including a curiosity in Solingen: a Christmas market there that was canceled due to the corona virus is only to be rescheduled from Saturday and thus one day later than planned. Obstacles were also expected for travel: Deutsche Bahn prepared its customers for delays and train cancellations.

The DWD warned that trees could be uprooted, roof tiles fall, basements and streets flooded with water. Damage from hail or lightning to buildings, cars and agriculture is also possible. “As is so often the case, it does not affect everyone in the regions mentioned, but where the thunderstorms occur, they will be violent,” announced DWD meteorologist Sebastian Altnau.

According to the meteorologists, the thunderstorms should start in the west and later spread to central Germany. “Locally extremely heavy heavy rain of around 40 liters per square meter in a short time, large hail of up to five centimeters and heavy gusts of wind to hurricanes at speeds between 100 and 130 kilometers per hour” are to be expected, according to the DWD warning report. “Possible tornadoes can’t be ruled out.”

According to the district government, school lessons in the Cologne administrative district ended at 11.30 a.m. so that the students could get home safely. In the four other administrative districts in North Rhine-Westphalia, the decision lay with the schools or the individual municipalities. According to the NRW Ministry of Education, the Abitur rewriting exams and exams at the vocational colleges scheduled for Friday should take place as planned.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, all schools sponsored by the Ahrweiler district remained closed. The population should follow the further weather forecasts on the radio, TV and Internet as well as via the Katwarn and Nina warning apps with particular attention. In mid-July 2021, 134 people were killed and thousands of houses were destroyed in a flood in the Ahr Valley after extremely heavy rain. To this day, many people live in alternative quarters.

Deutsche Bahn expected severe weather effects on rail traffic in western, central and eastern Germany. Passengers who wanted to postpone their trip planned for Friday could use their booked long-distance tickets flexibly up to and including seven days after the end of the disruption. Seat reservations could be exchanged free of charge, according to the Deutsche Bahn website.

NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) called on the population to be particularly careful: “Please stay at home. Avoid spending time outdoors,” he told the German Press Agency.

Numerous events have been canceled as a precaution. A thanksgiving ceremony planned in Bad Münstereifel with Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki for helpers in the flood disaster last July was cancelled. In Cologne, among other things, the zoo and the forest botanical garden were closed, and the cemeteries should also remain open to visitors from the afternoon. The city said trees could fall or branches break off. The Dortmund Zoo was closed all Friday.

In Belgium, the Royal Weather Institute activated the orange warning level because of the storm for Brussels and other regions, as reported by the Belga news agency. Delays were to be expected at Brussels Airport and several Brussels Airlines flights were canceled.

Heavy thunderstorms had already swept across western Germany on Thursday, but the damage was less severe than feared. In many places the sky suddenly darkened. There were local heavy rains, thunder and lightning. At times, rail traffic to the Netherlands was interrupted. There were still impairments on Friday on the railway line between Cologne and Wuppertal.

In Trier, a person suffered minor injuries when they drove their car over a fallen tree, police said. On Autobahn 1 near Illingen in Saarland, a driver was slightly injured in an accident – aquaplaning had occurred on the road.

There were also severe storms in the north. Thunderstorms and gusts of wind triggered hundreds of fire brigade operations in Lower Saxony. A person was injured by a tree near Eydelstedt and had to be taken to the hospital, according to the district fire brigade. Several buildings were badly damaged. Numerous trees fell down, basements were full.

In Hamburg, the fire brigade was deployed 34 times between 6:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., said a spokesman for the Hamburg fire brigade on Friday morning. It was mainly about flooded basements and broken branches, and some streets were also under water. A flooded underground car park had to be pumped out by the fire brigade. In Lübeck, the fire brigade recorded 20 calls within two hours. A lightning strike caused a fire in the attic.

In Baden-Württemberg in the district of Ludwigsburg, the fire brigade cleared muddy streets. The fire brigade was also deployed in Bavaria – because of fallen trees, broken traffic signs and flooded basements.

And so it should go on: Thunderstorms were also expected in southern Germany for Friday evening and during the night. “However, the risk of severe weather here is usually only local and decreases over the course of the night,” said DWD meteorologist Altnau. On Saturday, high “Zeus” calms the weather. On Sunday the sun will shine in many places, thunderstorms are only possible in the Alps. “On Monday, the next thunderstorm situation will be announced with a new low from the south-west,” said Altnau. These thunderstorms are more likely to hit the southern half of Germany.