At least one dead, dozens injured and millions in damage – that is the preliminary balance of the hurricane “Emmelinde” in Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia was particularly hard hit on Friday. According to the police, 43 people were injured in Paderborn in East Westphalia, ten of them seriously. In the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Wittgert, a 38-year-old man suffered an electric shock in a flooded basement and died. In Central Franconia, 14 people were injured when a shelter collapsed.
The Paderborn police spoke of a “swath of devastation”. Countless roofs were torn off, numerous trees uprooted. Public transport was severely affected. In view of the wind that was picking up again and again and many dangerous areas that were still unsecured, the police called on people to stay at home. “Increased dangers from strong winds” can also be expected for Saturday.
In Lippstadt, 35 kilometers from Paderborn, a tornado allegedly caused massive damage 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. There have been no reports of injuries from there so far. At times, around 120 bathers were trapped in the Cabrioli leisure pool because fallen trees blocked the entrance. The trapped people were later freed, the fire brigade reported.
When the tornado swept through the historic center of the more than 800-year-old Westphalian city, a sporting event should normally have taken place at this very spot, a Tagesspiegel reporter learned on site – at this time the children’s run and school run were on, in the evening there were more than a thousand Athletes should take part in the old town run for adults. But the city had canceled the event on Friday morning. The tornado cut a path about 400 to 500 meters wide as it swept across the city from west to east. To the north and south of it there was no apparent damage.
In Central Franconia in Bavaria, 14 people, including several children, were injured when a wooden hut collapsed during the storm there. The accident happened on Friday evening in Spalt (Roth district) near the Großer Brombachsee. According to a police spokeswoman, in view of the storm approaching in Bavaria, several vacationers sought shelter in the approximately 85 square meter hut, which then tipped to the side and collapsed.
All in all, the storm in Middle Franconia triggered almost 400 fire brigade operations – mainly because of flooded basements, uprooted trees and damaged house roofs. Between Neuhaus and Hersbruck the railway line was closed because of trees on the tracks.
In Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, there was no major damage despite massive thunderstorms. Police and rescue workers reported only a few fallen trees, hail damage to cars and flooding of basements. A 38-year-old man died in Rhineland-Palatinate when he suffered an electric shock when entering a flooded basement, which caused him to fall and probably hit his head, the police said. In the district of Bernkastel-Wittlich, five people were injured in a car accident on a rain-soaked country road, including a three-year-old child.
In Thuringia, late on Friday evening, a driver near Dittersdorf in the Saale-Orla district got off the road with his vehicle due to aquaplaning and crashed into a concrete wall, the police said. He and three passengers suffered minor injuries. Elsewhere in Thuringia, too, the emergency services had to move out – mainly because of uprooted trees blocking the roads.
In Saxony, the band Rammstein had to interrupt their concert on Friday evening for half an hour due to a thunderstorm over Leipzig. 45 minutes after the start of the show, people in the Red Bull Arena were asked to leave the stadium and seek shelter. After 15 minutes, the fans were then allowed back into the interior.
Even before the storm began, there were disruptions in many places in Germany at the start of the weekend. 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.
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.