There may be severe storms in Germany this weekend. Thunderstorms and storms are dangerous. We’ll show you how to best behave in extreme weather.

Continuous rain and thunderstorms are expected in several parts of Germany this weekend – but people often just shrug these off and continue their leisurely walk or bike ride. But Andreas Friedrich from the German Weather Service (DWD) stresses: “Thunderstorms are always life-threatening, because every flash of lightning can be fatal.”

If you can no longer retreat into a building, you need a hollow, i.e. a depression in the ground. “You should get away from trees, because they are also dangerous if lightning strikes,” explains Friedrich. “If you have found a hollow, I would put the bike a few meters away and also put down a backpack with any metal objects and position it away,” adds the DWD press spokesman.

The same applies to a motorcycle. Metal can conduct lightning energy. “Then crouch down in this hollow with your feet as close together as possible,” says Friedrich. “That way you at least have a chance of not being exposed to lightning and being at risk.”

“There is this golden rule where you count to three,” explains Friedrich. When you see lightning, you start counting. If you only get to three before you hear thunder, then the storm is less than a kilometer away. “Then it’s definitely dangerous.”

Would it be an option to drive into a forest? “No, forests are always bad,” stresses Friedrich. “Because if lightning strikes a tree – and it usually does, because it always chooses a high point in the terrain – and you are standing very close to the tree, you could get hit by debris. A tree like that can literally explode, the bark flying off. Then you are more at risk there than in the open air.” And if you are caught in a thunderstorm in the forest with no way out, the expert recommends looking for a treeless depression – in other words, going as low into the terrain as possible.

“In a normal car, you are in what is known as a Faraday cage” – and safe, says Friedrich. However, you should not stick your arms out of the window and close it.

Am I always safe in the house or do I have to adapt my behavior, such as not using the phone? “This rule existed in the days of corded telephones,” explains Friedrich. If lightning strikes nearby, the electrical system can be damaged by overvoltage – and you can also damage wired devices. “That’s why I wouldn’t use a corded telephone during a thunderstorm. It’s a different story with a smartphone.” And in this context, the expert advises unplugging electrical devices in the house.

For a long time, tornadoes were something that people in Europe knew more from the US news or Hollywood films. But hurricanes with devastating consequences can also occur in Germany and the surrounding area. The German Weather Service (DWD) speaks of 20 to 60 tornadoes per year in Germany – so you should know how to react in an emergency.

Tornadoes are easy to recognize by the long cloud trunk that stretches from the sky to the ground. If you see this phenomenon, you should take action because the direction in which the storm is moving is often difficult to predict. The German Weather Service (DWD) offers the following tips:

Depending on the strength and speed of the tornado, you can flee in the opposite direction by car or bicycle. First, briefly observe the cloud tube to better estimate its direction. If escape is no longer possible, do not stay in the car or near it.

Flooding and high water also often occur during thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. The danger posed by large amounts of water is often underestimated. You should note the following:

Although videos and photos of floods are important for documentation, you should never put yourself in danger in order to get the most spectacular shots possible.

Always informed about the weather in your area.

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