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German Weather

German Brief’s monthly weather review for May 2024

Summary: Exceptional rainfall and flooding in many parts of Germany

(All temperatures in degrees Celsius.)

German weather

May 2024, one of the mildest and wettest since 1881

June 2024: There can be little doubt that climate change is impacting German weather patterns. The weather is changing and temperatures in Germany are rising. Spring 2024 was more than just unusually mild in the country. In no other comparable period in the past 142 years have higher average temperatures been measured. According to the German Weather Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD), May alone was a good two degrees warmer than average compared to the last three decades. The month was also sunnier and much too wet. Since German weather data was first recorded in 1881, no higher temperatures have ever been recorded at this time of year.


In May 2024, a stagnant low-pressure system took control over Central Europe. It led to highly unstable weather conditions with many heavy rainfalls in many parts of Germany. In some regions, whole months' worth of rain fell within short periods. This resulted in the third wettest May since records began. There were daily news reports of flooding.


In the Swabian district of Lindau, on Lake Constance, for example, around 128 litres of rain per square metre fell within one day. Numerous roads are also closed here due to flooding. In Meckenbeuren (Lake Constance), some 1,300 people had to leave their homes as a precaution due to the risk of flooding. Rural roads near Reutlingen were closed due to landslides. There are also road closures due to flooding in Bavaria. Some streets in the state capital of Munich are also underwater.


In five other cities in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, rainfall amounted to more than 100 litres per square metre on the last day of May. According to the DWD, the highest warning level was put in force in many places. Several districts in Bavaria declared a state of emergency. In the district of Günzburg, several campsites were evacuated.


Rainfall has also caused water levels in rivers to rise in other regions. In Hesse, water levels of the rivers Rhein and Neckar were at their highest for 20 years.


May 2024 was the fifth-warmest in Germany since measurements began in 1881. At 14.9 degrees Celsius, the average temperature in May 2024 was 2.8 degrees above the value for the internationally recognised reference period from 1961 to 1990 (12.1 °C). Compared to the current and warmer reference period from 1991 to 2020 (13.1 °C), the deviation was +1.8 degrees. This statistically determined average temperature often felt much cooler, especially during the day. It was the cloudy and therefore mild nights that kept the average so high. Only in the northern German lowlands was the warmth noticeable with a few summer days. In eastern Germany, on the river Oder’ the highest temperature was 30 °C on 22 May.


According to the DWD, an exceptional average of 125 litres per square metre (l/m²) fell in Germany in May 2024. This corresponds to an increase of around 75 per cent compared to the reference period 1961 to 1990 (71 l/m²) and 1991 to 2020 (79 l/m²). Only 2007 (131 l/m²) and 2013 (128 l/m²) were wetter.


Apart from parts of eastern Germany, May was a washout in many regions. Unprecedented rainfall led to flooding in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. In many regions, amounts equivalent to an entire month's precipitation were measured within a short period. Images of threatening heavy rain storms with masses of hail became more frequent. Lightning also posed a considerable danger: On 20 May, some ten people were injured after a lightning strike on the banks of the Elbe in Dresden.


Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst (German's National Weather Service)



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