Winter weather hits southern Austria

Areas of southern Austria were pummelled by floods, landslides and half a metre of hailstones yesterday as the region was hit by winter-like conditions.

Winter weather hits southern Austria
A bridge collapse in Styria. Photo: BFVHB

In Styria hailstones the size of golfballs cause widespread damage to crops and, along with intense downpours, led to blockages that caused mudslides.

In the area of Hartberg-Fürstenfeld two bridges had to be blocked off by emergency services after being damaged by the storms and partly collapsing.

Spokesman for the fire service in Leibnitz Herbert Putz also told the ORF that hailstones as wide as four centimetres caused damage to many roofs in the area. In one incident, a man fell from a building’s roof and received injuries to his head after trying to clear up after the storm.

Carinthia was also affected by the storms, with around 70 separate emergencies in the Klagenfurt region.

In Ferlach, a large police operation was launched to find dozens of tourists who went missing in the bad weather while visiting the Tscheppaschlucht adventure park.

They eventually discovered holidaymakers had managed to get on board a bus but had been unable to reach to their parked cars after a mudslide blocked a road.

Photo: FF Ferlach

In Burgenland residents brought out the shovels to help clear roads and paths of hailstones, which had turned the streets white in a matter of minutes.  

Over 2,200 hectares of agricultural land in Burgenland were also damaged from hailstones, with the cost estimated to be over €800,000.

“My garden now looks like it’s been shredded. Vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit are completely destroyed ,” one resident told the Kurier. “Was it means for farmers and wine-growers, whose income comes from their crops, you can only guess.”

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Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

Five people, including two children, died in Thursday as storms wreaked havoc in Austria, according to the country's news agency and officials.

Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

Three people died due to a falling tree in Lower Austria state, news agency APA reported.

In the southern state of Carinthia, two children were killed and about a dozen other people injured at a small lake when the storm also uprooted several trees there, said Red Cross spokeswoman for the state Melanie Reiter.

Elsewhere in the region, roofs were blown off and other damage caused, she told AFP.

She said the children were estimated to be between five and eight years old. 

Train traffic also came to a halt in Carinthia and neighbouring states because of the damages caused by the storms, according to rail operator ÖBB.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and President Alexander Van der Bellen expressed their sympathies for the victims with Van der Bellen describing the children’s deaths as an “immeasurable tragedy”.

In June, an 82-year-old man died after landslides caused by heavy rains caused widespread damage, also in Carinthia state, which borders Italy and Slovenia.

Austria is currently experiencing a heatwave and authorities have warned of thunderstorms.

Experts say climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and other extreme weather events.