Munich hit by heaviest snowfall in 20 years, wakes up to 50 cm (1.6 feet) of snow and severe traffic disruption, Germany

Munich hit by heaviest snowfall in 20 years, wakes up to 50 cm (1.6 feet) of snow and severe traffic disruptions, Germany

Munich woke up to a record-breaking snowfall of 50 cm (1.6 feet) on December 2, 2023, marking the city’s heaviest snowfall in two decades. The German Weather Service had previously issued Level 2 and Level 3 weather warnings for heavy snowfall in southern Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, leading to significant disruptions in air travel and ground transportation.

On December 2, 2023, Munich reported a historic snow accumulation of 50 cm (1.6 feet), the most significant in 20 years. This followed the German Weather Service’s advisories on December 1, 2023, warning of heavy snowfall across southern regions of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg. The forecasted snowfall ranged between 10 to 40 cm (4 to 16 inches), but the actual accumulation exceeded expectations.

The issued weather warnings included a Level 2 advisory for parts of southern Bavaria near the Austrian border and a more severe Level 3 warning for areas including Munich and southern Baden-Wurttemberg. These warnings, which are the third-highest and second-highest levels on a four-tier scale, were set to remain in effect at least until late December 2.

The snowfall had already begun impacting the region on December 1, causing disruptions at Munich Airport (MUC) with flight delays and cancellations. This is Germany’s second-largest airport.

Additionally, the heavy snowfall led to significant cancellations in both air and rail travel on December 2, as reported by Reuters.

Deutsche Bahn and Munich Airport announced the cancellation of long-distance trains and hundreds of flights in and out of Munich. Munich Airport stated that no flights were scheduled to depart or arrive until at least 05:00 UTC on Sunday, December 3, according to its website. Furthermore, Deutsche Bahn reported on its website that trains could not reach Munich’s central train station, with the halt expected to last the entire day. Passengers were advised to rebook their trips due to these disruptions.

Unfortunately, this snow event resulted in dozens of overnight road accidents across southern Germany, including one mass collision with 7 injuries — four of them severe.

Friday’s heavy snow capped a week full of indications of a comparatively early start by recent standards for cold, wintery weather across Germany, the Deutsche Welle reported.

The ski slopes on Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, on the border to Austria in the Bavarian Alps, opened on Friday, the earliest start for the German ski season in years amid warmer recent winters.

According to the spokeswoman for the slope, roughly 2 m (6.5 feet) of snow recorded today is the most the mountain has seen at the start of the ski season since 2007.

Munich, the capital of Bavaria state in southern Germany, is situated approximately 50 km (30 miles) north of the Alps’ edge.

The winter weather is expected to continue affecting ground transport and business operations in the area. Traffic delays and commercial trucking disruptions are anticipated along regional highways. Additionally, secondary and rural roads in the affected states are likely to experience hazardous driving conditions. Priority is being given to clearing major routes, and authorities may close parts of highways if necessary to ensure safety.

The ongoing weather conditions might also lead to further flight disruptions at other airports in the region, particularly if ground stops are implemented and deicing operations are required.


1 Germany: Munich Airport suspends flights amid heavy snowfall – DW – December 2, 2023

2 Munich flights, long-distance trains cancelled due to snow – Reuters – December 2, 2023

3 Germany: Winter weather warnings in effect in southern areas into at least late Dec. 2 – Crisis24 – December 1, 2023


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