August 5, 2021

Storm over Stuttgart: Land under in the city – Stuttgart

The B14 became a waterway on Monday evening.  Photo: Andreas Rosar Photo Agency-Stuttg

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The B14 became a waterway on Monday evening.

Photo: Andreas Rosar Photo Agency-Stuttg

What an evening: heavy rain and heavy gusts of wind hit Stuttgart and the region. Masses of water and storm damage caused numerous deployments by the fire brigade and police. The S-Bahn also had to stop operating.

Stuttgart – Land under in Stuttgart. The B 14 in the city center offers a picture like from the Stuttgart city chronicle at around 9:30 p.m. Only this time in color: the underpass under the Paulinenbrücke is full. Two cars are deep in the water. Fortunately, nobody was harmed. Many remember darkly and not only in black and white: on August 15, 1972, a heavy thunderstorm raged in the state capital: hailstones the size of tennis balls fell over Stuttgart, squalls swept through the streets, roofs were covered. It’s not that bad this time. Inflatable boats are also not required on the B 14.

But the fire department! Police officers secure the spot. “The fire brigade will have to pump that out,” says one of them. “If we wait for the water to evaporate, we’ll be here in two weeks.” Despite all the stress that evening, the policeman shows his sense of humor. All attention.

42 liters of water fall per square meter on the Schnarrenberg

A few hundred meters away, people with buckets are standing at a doorway – a full cellar. It is not the only one that evening and that night. Spread over the entire city, water drains into the cellars, topples trees, and falling branches demolish parked cars.

How much rain was it now? The lady from the German Weather Service is abrupt. Not out of rudeness, but because she is still in the middle of the “warning situation” at 9.45 p.m. In Stuttgart it’s still raining at the time, but the heavy thunderstorm has already moved east and north. She has the most important data ready: At the Schnarrenberg measuring point, 42 liters of water per square meter fell in one hour. “That’s a lot,” she says. “The value is above the threshold for extremely heavy rain.” High values ​​are also measured in the region: 37 liters in Backnang. All the ingredients for the heavy rain, she says, were there.

That is why the weather service had warned of the storm during the day. Even before the storm. The wind speeds on the Schnarrenberg in Stuttgart are 90 kilometers per hour at 9 p.m., at the airport they are even 107 kilometers per hour. Instead, it rains significantly less there: “only” 24 liters an hour. A sign that the precipitation varies greatly locally.

“The emergency call is completely overloaded”

The fire department rules the land. Big alarm in the city. “The emergency call is completely overloaded,” says fire department spokesman Daniel Anand, “we try to use social media channels to communicate that you should only call in an extreme emergency.” Emergency alone is not enough. The emergency services are in constant use, and numerous emergency calls still have to be processed. “By around 11:15 pm we had about 250 missions all over the city”. says Anand.

The S-Bahn traffic was paralyzed around 8.30 p.m. On all routes it means: complete failure. The regional trains are also stopped by the storm. Between the Stuttgart main station and Tübingen it is said: “Train traffic temporarily suspended! Several line damage, operations are only expected in the early morning hours. “

The weather is messing up the timetable

Light rail traffic is also being completely slowed down. The control center receives malfunction reports from everywhere. The U 13 light rail line, for example, is affected, which, according to initial reports, is blocked by a fallen tree in the Kienbachstrasse area. Everything gets mixed up: Normally you can be in Untertürkheim within five minutes – the storm quickly messes up such a timetable. If you wanted to leave at 8:22 p.m., you have to be patient until 9:41 p.m.

Similar reports come from the lower level of the Charlottenplatz tram stop. Where, for example, the U 1 and U 4 lines run, water problems in the tunnel are reported. The delays are immense. The electronic timetable puts off a U 4, which should have left at 8.28 p.m., to 10.08 p.m. But I’m still thinking about driving now?

“Trash cans on the track” and other observations force the tram drivers to be extremely careful. There is said to be an obstacle on the rails in Esslinger Strasse in Fellbach. At times, the tram drivers have to go to the next stop and wait there with the yellow train. It takes a long time after 9 p.m. for the lanes to open again. “Drive carefully,” the command from the control center says, “and watch out for the overhead lines.”

“There are major obstacles in regional and long-distance traffic in the southwest,” says a railway spokesman. In view of the large number of canceled and delayed trains, it is best to use a mobile phone app for passengers to find out more.

Parts of the opera roof are covered

Alarm at the opera too: the storm has covered parts of the roof, copper parts are falling on the forecourt. A statue also shatters on the ground. Artistic director Viktor Schoner says: “I’m under the roof and I’m getting really wet.” At the time of the storm, 250 guests were at a recital in the opera, no one was injured. “Water penetrates into the building, that is one of our great challenges,” says fire department spokesman Anand.

Even the police are not spared from the storm. A patrol car crew is surprised by the water in the underpass at Charlottenplatz. The officers have to get out quickly and leave the company car behind. A police car at Gebhard-Müller-Platz suffers a similar fate. “In addition, the cellars in some police stations are full,” says police spokeswoman Elena Marino. The Cannstatter Revier on Martin-Luther-Straße was particularly affected because of the downhill section of Waiblinger Straße. Water damage in the service building is also reported from the Ostendstrasse district. The police recorded 230 missions by evening.

The sewer network is reaching its limit

By the way: Experts have long been waiting for Stuttgart to act like a funnel in torrential rain. The 1,600-kilometer-long sewer network cannot absorb large volumes of water, around 60 liters per square meter. What Stuttgart experienced on Monday evening – that was up to 42 liters. In all deep-lying underpasses, the aim was to have the pumping stations replaced for several million euros by 2021.