June 2019: Dramatic Hailstorm put sailors in danger and a monster Heatwave.

May 2019 was the first month in Middle Europe for a long time which wasn’t too hot. There were some rainy days. It seemed that weather might turn in a more “normal” mode compared to 2018. This was before June. In the larger Munich area people experienced a freak hail storm on Whit Monday. There was also severe weather in other parts of Germany in the first half of June. Later the month, large parts of Europe suffered from one of the most extreme heatwaves ever recorded.

Aftermath of severe Hailstorm in Munich region

Thunderstorms and severe weather didn’t came unexpected on pentecost. Weather models showed a highly likelyhood for thunderstorms in the Alps and the Upper Bavaria region. However the events on June 10 proved again how tricky severe weather developments can be and how difficult it is to set precicely the right weather alert in motion.

Sunday, June 9, was more or less a qiet day. It was getting warmer in Upper Bavaria and other regions. There were already weather warnings issued. On Monday, June 10, the alert system of the huge lake Ammersee south-west of Munich was activated in the morning hours, but then it was quiet for most of the day. A lot of tourists enjoyed the holiday in Germany. People were swimming and sailing. Weather forecasters and and the lifeguard service were still expecting something to happen.

The weather radar showed signals getting stronger in the Allgäu and the Upland before the Alps around Kempten after noon. Here an incredibly strong cell was building up. When I checked the radar a couple of times in the early afternoon however, I couldn’t figure out which path that storm would take. I also didn’t figured out how fast this monsterstorm would move eastwards, so I was also surprised when it suddenly became really dark on this summer afternoon.

It was around 16.23pm when the orange alarm lights at the Bavarian lakes were activated again. There were still a lot of sailors out there. At one lake the lifeguard service warned people who were still swimming in the “Wörthsee” and closed the shore. 50 minutes later all hell brake loose on lake Ammersee. The Starnberger Merkur Newspaper later published a very interesting coverage.

Alex Beck, a sailor, told later the Merkur-reporters that the storm-cell was “racing”. Very soon the lifeguard service had to solve hands full over the next hours.

The same applied to firestarters and police: The thunderstorm left a path of destruction beginning in the Allgäu, hit several communities around the North side of the lake Ammersee region and also hit the west and the north of the Munich area.

Hailstorms in Upper Bavaria are not unusual. There is particularly a history for severe weather in May and around Pentecoste. What’s so unusual was the path, which was hard to predict. Big hail is often more seen in the South-East were there is even a special cloudseeding flyer unit for this problem. I didn’t find any report from a professional weather researcher, but I am sure this was a strong super-cell. Super-cells are more likely to take unusual paths.

The intensity was the other unusual fact. I experienced also strong wind gusts and smaller hail but 10 km to the north it was raining hailstones with the size of tennis balls.

Within minutes roofs very destroyed, nameless cars damaged, a motorway tunnel was set under water, greenhouses were completely destroyed and also a grocery store. It ended up in estimated damage cost of 30 Mio. Euros.

The same time people on the lake Ammersee were struggling for their lives. A couple hung on their capsized sailing boat, others were stranded and another sailor couple were only safed by their “persenning”, a cover, from the hail bombardement. They had reached a buoy but couldn’t leave their ship. Then they had to wait out the storm. At this time they experienced waves like never before according the their account in the “Starnberger Merkur” newspaper.

Another thunderstorm in June

The following weeks people began to recover from the hailstorm, settling insurance matters and repairing windows, cars and houses. There were more thunderstorms but nothing like the cell on June 10. However another extreme weather situation was already throwing a shadow.

Weather models predicted an enormorous heatwave for the second half of June. Weather services were astonished by themselves about the numbers. And the models were mostly right. Germany saw new temperature records but not the 40 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, there were set many new records. It didn’t took long and the bushfires, which were a problem in May started, again.

France saw the worst with some over 40 degree Celsius records. The authorities had to issue a state of emergency in some areas. Particularly Southern France was affected.

The situation calmed by the end of month. On July 1, 2019, a cold front with thunderstorms reached Southern Germany. There are still wildfires raging. The heatwave is only part of a problem which has the potential to become the real big threat for the near future: In wide parts of Germany there is still a drought. The government published recently a study about the effects of a drought lasting several years.

cold front and thunderstorms July 1, 2019

A Waterfall In The Sky: Thunderstorms In May And Fallstripes

May is often a time in the year of short-lived thunderstorms and some cooler rainy days in Middle Europe. However, since some years there is also more severe weather with flash floods and even tornados in May. 2018 had been particularly unusual with new temperature records in April. It was too dry in many areas and it still is. A big problem is that it seems that steady rain is missing more and more. Long lasting rain was a common weather pattern every year which wasn’t very amusing for tourists but important for nature and farming. That changed. As predicted by climate change researchers we have more showers and thunderstorm with extreme flooding now.

When I was younger I remember May not as a very warm month. In some years there was still a lot of snow in the mountains. Often it was very cold in the middle of the month. But this year it was more like midsummer rather than spring.

In Southern Germany, the dry period ended to a certain extent and more and more showers and thunderstorms happened.

The first thunderstorm in my area close to lake Ammersee in Upper Bavaria developed on early evening May 12.

It was very impressing because of the late sun which illuminated the clouds and rain at a low angle. May is a good time for taking pictures of thunderstorms because often the light is better as in July and the air is often more clear. Furthermore, it is a good time to photograph fall stripes of rain which look like curtains and can create very interesting patterns.

The following days more thunderstorms occurred. Weather forecasters had a tough time during May. A couple of time stable, warm weather was predicted. But weather doesn’t behave like it was supposed to be. On Pentecost, May20+21, it should have been warm and dry but there were thunderstorms and showers. May 20 indeed was a surprise, because that “summer day” was more or less a dark day with a heavy thunderstorm and flooding in a village between Murnau and Garmisch Partenkirchen. Already on May 18 an open-air event had to be cancelled due to a thunderstorm in Fürstenfeldbruck, a city not far from Munich.

This is what Sunday, May 20, happened: In the afternoon the sky was loaded with dark clouds and rain. There were also shrouds of mist surrounding the Hohen Peissenberg, which can be seen in the background. Some lightning could be seen in the South. In the evening the weather calmed down.

Morning, May 21, began with a misty sky. There was a low hanging layer of mist between the mountains an the lower areas. The mist soon disappeared and the sky became clear:
The air was still humid and the sun was hot. Perfect conditions for the development of further thunderstorms. In the late afternoon, a thunderstorm cell moved towards lake Ammersee. It was very interesting to follow this thunderstorm since there were fascinating patterns of fall stripes. Furthermore, there was also a rainbow.

It was remarkable that this year in May the thunderstorms were often moving in unusual directions. Sometimes there were moving from South-East to South-West or from North to South. Mostly weather systems are moving from West to East. An unusual constellation of pressure systems in Europe was one reason for the long dry period and the further development.

The thunderstorm on May 21 was coming closer for some time but then stopped. Perhaps the huge lake had an influence. It happens often that lakes are influencing local weather.

In this case, it was again good to know some viewpoints in the area before. It made it easier to follow the weather pattern.

The higher position was particularly helpful to see the rainbow which developed during the thunderstorm.

The rainbow was barely visible for some time but then intensified.

However the most special thing was the development in the upper part of the thunderstorm-cloud.

There were not only fall stripes below the cloud but in this case, it was clearly visible that rain came from the upper levels.

It was indeed like a “waterfall” in the sky.

The unstable weather continued.The title picture was taken a few days later, May 24.

There were further dramatic events in the middle of Germany with flooding. There was also a tremendous portion of hail in some places.
KelbyOne. Get better at landscape photography.

January 16-18: “Friederike” Strongest Winter Storm In Germany Since Kyrill

After a calm but grey weekend and a calm Monday, the wind freshened up on Tuesday, January 16. On Tuesday morning there was a turbulent sky with fast moving clouds in Southern Germany. There was rain in the afternoon. But on the next day with the public in the wake of Winterstorm Friederike, which was announced to arrive on Thursday, weather in many parts of Germany was getting extreme. Already in the night, there had been accidents due to winter-thunderstorms.

In Bavaria, Wednesday morning started still relatively calm but in Southern Bavaria around the lakes and in the South-West it was already day when it looked like the night would fall again at 8.00am in the morning.

Suddenly it became darker and darker. A snowstorm set in and there was lightning and thunder. Within minutes a lot of snow fell and streets became slippery. There was also hail. After ten in the morning the sky cleared up, even the sun was shining shortly but it was a day with many more showers. It was windy all the day.


There was a bit more snow in the night. In the morning it felt warmer. Then, on Thursday, the wind was picking up speed. Storm-warnings were issued before. Weather models did still slightly differ on Thursday morning but the storm hit mostly the middle of Germany as expected. But also in Southern-Germany, there were really strong winds.

Friederike was soon suspected to be the strongest winter storm since Kyrill which was exactly the same day, on an Eighteen January. Indeed, the storm already caused many accidents and did damage even before it crossed over Germany.

In the early afternoon, there were still different forecasts if the storm would increase in the early evening hours or if the weather would calm down. Many schools were closed for the afternoon, Flights from Munich got canceled, trains were delayed. In the late afternoon, Deutsche Bahn shut down its long-distance travel.

At 4.30pm, Januar 18, the sky is mostly clear, but the wind is still very strong. Most of the snow is molten away and a brook is running down the street.

The aftermath: As the weather calmed down in the night, the news showed the colossal damage which Friederike did. Due to its extreme wind speeds, it made it into the top five of monstrous windstorms in Europe over the last 30 years.

By Peter Engelmann


Summer 2016 in Middle Europe: another year with new temperature records. August 28 was an extremely hot day in Berlin with temperatures over 34 C. Already the day before there had been some severe thunderstorms in Western Germany. A cold front was coming in from the west and in the afternoon the German Weather Service issued a warning for severe weather with strong wind gusts, thunderstorms and hail for Berlin and Brandenburg. However following nowcasts as provided by from some webpages showed that weather was very unpredictable that Sunday in Eastern Germany. It looked a couple of times as there were stronger thunderstorms taking course towards the East, then they lost their energy but in the evening some stronger storms appeared suddenly. Before the front arrived in Berlin the air became really hot and humid. It was sticky and the sky became overcast. In the south of Brandenburg there was already a strong thunderstorm. It was the typical scenario when you expect the worst. You could feel the tension.

Nevertheless there wasn’t a strong hit in Berlin, but a visually impressing storm system in the East of the City which generated sheet-lightning in the West. It was already nearly dark when that storm approached. Later, in the west side of the city there was only rainfall for some minutes. In other parts of Germany there were serious damages due to the collision between warm and cold air. There was a rotating supercell causing flooding in Hamburg and another storm did damage for example in Stendal. Lightning stopped trains in Hannover. The next day temperatures had dropped dramatically. In some places there was a temperature fall of 15 degrees. It was a release after these unusual hot days end of August. The learning lesson was that precise now-casts are still a difficult thing to do when there is chaos in the atmosphere, but should definitely further developed and made more popular since they could be a life-saving tool. Furthermore the trend of climate change related extremes continues in 2016. Adaption strategies seem mandatory for example for farming which suffered both from flooding and too much heat and droughts in other areas. It would be also worth to further investigate the connections between extreme weather and traffic accidents. Perhaps it’s a coincidence but there had been some accidents already before the thunderstorms arrived that day. Maybe the tension in the air, the humidity and the heat strongly affects the concentration of drivers. The situation in Berlin was worth for a little experiment with slow motion and an editing which created an effect similar to a time-lapse on the other side. Together with cross-dissolve transitions the video has perhaps a bit of a supernatural air:

Thunderstorm, Berlin 28. August 2016 from Peter Engelmann on Vimeo.