BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - Meteorologists have warned of extreme weather conditions: snow and black ice slowed down the daily lives of many people on Wednesday, especially in central and southern Germany. Roads and sidewalks were dangerously slippery. Some schools remained closed or at least canceled in-person classes. At Frankfurt Airport, planes were temporarily unable to take off due to freezing rain. The railroads also had to prepare for disruptions. Local bus services were stopped in many places and thick layers of ice formed on parked cars in some places.

The German Weather Service (DWD) expected the storm situation to ease by Thursday at the latest - and in some regions as early as Wednesday. "By the weekend, we can then look forward to cold winter weather with sunshine", the meteorologists said.

Weather service recommends: avoid driving

The weather service had issued severe weather warnings for many regions in central and southern Germany due to the risk of icy conditions and snowfall. "While the areas north of the Main from the Eifel to the Thuringian Forest will get a good pack of snow, south of the border from the Hunsrück to the Spessart will see heavy freezing rain in places," the DWD described the situation on Wednesday. "Unnecessary driving should be avoided in these areas at all costs. There is also a considerable risk of ice breakage!"

In Saarland alone, the police counted more than 100 traffic accidents by midday. People were also injured in four accidents, but none seriously. On Wednesday morning, the Autobahn 6 in Hohe St. Ingbert in the direction of Mannheim was temporarily closed after an accident involving several vehicles.

On the icy A8 near Karlsbad in the district of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg, a driver escaped with minor injuries when she lost control of her car and it overturned. There were partial closures on the A5 in Baden-Württemberg. According to a police spokesperson, there were 17 accidents on the highway near Rastatt and Baden-Baden on Wednesday morning.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the Trier police reported a traffic jam on the 64 freeway because the neighboring country of Luxembourg was no longer letting in heavy goods vehicles - the trucks were jammed and diverted to parking lots. The winter weather also caused problems in the border region in France. There were accidents and traffic disruptions in Alsace and Lorraine on Wednesday, and trucks were banned from driving on main roads.

Airplane take-offs suspended and ICE speed reduced

Air traffic was also affected. Due to freezing rain, aircraft take-offs at Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt were temporarily suspended on Wednesday afternoon. The operator Fraport justified this by stating that the aircraft could no longer be safely de-iced before take-off due to persistent freezing rain. Hundreds of flights had already been canceled in Frankfurt anyway.

As a precautionary measure, Deutsche Bahn (DB) limited the maximum speed of its ICE trains to 200 km/h on Wednesday, which could also lead to disruptions throughout Germany, according to the railroad's website. A number of ICE connections from Frankfurt and Stuttgart to Paris were completely canceled, while the French TGV trains were able to run on these routes. The reason for this is that German trains are more susceptible to damage from falling lumps of ice and whirling ballast stones on the French high-speed line to Paris.

Schools also remained closed in some places due to the traffic situation, for example in Darmstadt. The city explained that it did not want to expose pupils to any unnecessary health risks on their way to school and also wanted to reduce the volume of traffic in the city "in order to defuse the situation for the fire department, emergency services and hospitals".

Severe weather followed by "best skiing and tobogganing weather"

According to the DWD, the reason for the storm was a sharp air mass boundary over the middle of Germany, which separated cold air in the north from very mild sea air in the south. The weather service expected the situation to ease by Thursday.

According to the meteorologists, the air mass boundary, including precipitation, should shift southwards during the night, so that the freezing rain in the central parts of the country will gradually change to snow. During the course of the day, the precipitation should also change back to snow in the south. "In the north and center, the sun will increasingly prevail and we can look forward to the best skiing and tobogganing weather in the central low mountain ranges," it said.

Winter sports enthusiasts will love it - for example in the winter sports areas in the Sauerland. In the past few cold days, the snow cannons in Winterberg, for example, have already been able to produce a lot of technical snow. The Winterberg ski lift carousel announced that the addition of natural snow would be ideal for the slopes. "The conditions could hardly be better."/kie/DP/jha