Hurricane Frederike Blows the House Down: Surpasses Kyrill

Record-breaking Wind Speed Surpasses Kyrill Storm of 2007, Six Dead, Train Services Shut Down Together with All Aspects of Life

A day ago, the German Republic as well as other European Countries commemorated the 11th anniversary of the Hurricane Kyrill, which slammed Europe, providing the country with destructive winds of up to 250 km/h (155 mph). 47 people were killed by this storm, mostly by falling trees. Thirteen of which happened in Germany, where average winds of up to 120 mph caused widespread damage, including destruction of buildings, cars and even forests. Power outage was widespread including in Magdeburg, where the entire city of 230,000 inhabitants were without power for almost a week. And lastly, the German Railways (The Bahn) shut down all regional, interurban (S-bahn) and long-distance (Fernverkehr) train services, forcing trains to stop at the next station and be converted into hotels.

Fast forward to today, and we are cleaning up from another hurricane, Frederike. With wind speeds of up to 204 kph (130 mph), the big bad wolf did more than huffing and puffing and blowing the house down as seen in the following videos:

The average speeds surpassed that of Kyrill’s but like the 2007 hurricane, the hardest hit areas were the same:  in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Mitteldeutschland (Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and parts of Lower Saxony), where the wind speeds were the highest and much of the destruction took place. Unlike Kyrill, though, the storm started with massive amounts of precipitation, mostly in the form of snow, combined with high winds and extreme cold which reduced visibility to less than 100 meters. All of which happened yesterday.  Add icy conditions and the whole storm started with an appetizer. With Kyrill in 2007, there was high wind and extremely mild temperatures but no precipitation until the storm arrived with full force.  The sudden increase in temperatures by approximately 15°F (6°C) today melted much of the snow away but resulted in the increase in wind speed as Frederike rolled through the region. The end result is devastation which will take days to clean up.  Damage amounts are expected to be in the tens of billions of Euros for Germany, Benelux and parts of Scandanavia and eastern Europe.

While all of Germany was hit hard by Frederike, the worst areas were in the mountains of central and eastern Germany but also in large cities. Many villages and resorts  in the mountain regions were cut off due to fallen trees, snow and zero visibility caused by high winds. Several motorways and main highways were closed down due to trucks being blown over and several trees and overhead signs being blown over.  The Bahn shut down all long-distance trains nationwide but also regional trains and S-bahn in all of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Thuringia, NRW, Hesse and parts of Bavaria. This included private train services. Hundreds of thousands of train commuters were forced to either use the bus, taxi or find lodging even in stranded trains at the stations. Airports canceled flights, schools dismissed students early, while some have canceled classes for tomorrow. It will take the weekend to clean up and somewhat return to normal……

….and in time too, for another system, bringing colder temperatures and pecipitation in a form of freezing rain and/or snow will follow for the weekend, thus giving residents an incentive to bundle up while cleaning up…..

 

but at the same time, have some mulled wine ready. After all, it’s not just for Christmas.

More information about Hurricane Frederike can be found here.

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Holiday Genre: Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair by Stella Mead

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Before returning to my visits to the Christmas markets of 2017, I would like to tie this holiday genre with the Christmas market tour, for it has to do with shopping and finding things for friends and family-

or in this case, family and extended family. 😉

When this poem was written by Stella Mead in 1934, it appeared in the comic strips before becoming part of a treasury of Christmas Stories which Ann McGovern put together in 1942. And while the character was indeed an eight-armed underwater beast, the thought of buying the right gift at the right place at the Christmas Fair still comes true today.

And so, Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair just like the author went to the Christmas market for shopping and food. Enjoy! 🙂

Lord Octopus went to the Christmas Fair;

An hour and a half he was traveling there.

Then he had to climb

For a weary time

To the slimy block

Of a sandstone rock,

And creep, creep away

To the big wide bay

Where a stout old whale

Held his Christmas sale.

 

Lord Octopus went to the Christmas Fair;

An hour and a half he was traveling there.

His two little girls and two little boys

Were waiting at home for their Christmas toys;

And dear old Granny,

And fat Aunt Fanny,

And Cousin Dolly,

And Sister Molly

Would think Lord Octopus quite unpleasant

Unless he brought them a Christmas present.

 

Lord Octopus went to the Christmas Fair;

An hour and a half he was traveling there.

He purchased two hoops for the little boys.

He purchased two rings for the girls as toys.

He bought for Granny

A sweet nightcap,

To please Aunt Fanny

A game of snap;

For cousin Dolly

A winter wrap,

For Sister Molly

A sea-route map.

 

With hoops for the boys, for the girls round rings,

The wrap, and the rest of the Christmas things,

Tied up into parcels and packets strong,

Lord Octopus merrily went along.

On every arm he hung a present,

And said, “It’s really rather pleasant

To have eight arms instead of two.

What can those human creatures do

With just two arms for all the toys

They have to buy their girls and boys?”

Source: McGovern, Ann (Ed.) Treasury of Christmas Stories  New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1960. 

FlFiHolidays2017

Holiday Genre: Time to Forgive

 

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Another typical German Christmas tradition we usually see during the holiday season are the commercials. Using special themes that connect Christmas with family and love, store chains produce scenes that bring family and friends together, following the events that happened during the year as well as basing some of them on personal experiences of people working there.

Two commercials come to mind that were televised during the holiday season, both of whom focused on the theme of forgiveness. Forgiveness of the sins committed against family, friends and even mankind. Forgiveness which means starting over again and mending the ties that were ripped apart because of war and conflict that didn’t need to happen but it did.  Forgiveness which means loving again.

In the first holiday commercial, forgiveness meant reestablishing a bond between a parent and a child. In this one, produced by the German grocery chain Penny, the mother seeks out to her daughter, years after they had a fall-out during the daughter’s pregnancy. The mother’s journey was like a walk in the woods- meeting obstacles that were as painful as it was recalling the memories of the two together. The end result is not what is expected except that they both came home:

 

In the second commercial, the scene took place in the future, where artificial intelligence invaded mankind and chased the humans away into forests and other dugouts. While the three-legged machines looked for other natural life forms- most likely to kill off, one of the robots discovered the holiday the humans had been celebrating after coming across first a poster of a show entitled “Wonderful Christmas” and then a Christmas tree and pieced together how the celebration took shape. While reenacting the scene with manequins didn’t function, the robot sought human life to better understand their life, taking with it, the Christmas star to give to the family that it found. In the end, the grocery chain Edeka offered the viewers a glimpse of how two groups can come together:

While the theme forgiveness was clearly in connection with events that have unfolded since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017- name any conflict, because he had his hand in the apple pie- it showed how conflicts can permanently damage a relationship in ways the parties cannot comprehend until years later, when it is all too late. When Siegmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minster mentioned in an interview that Germany was breaking off ties with the US on foreign policy, it had to do with conflicts between both countries on virtually everything, combined with accusations (mostly were considered fake) and the unwillingness to compromise. The damage has, according to Gabriel, become irreversible that it may be impossible to mend ties, even after Trump leaves office. Other countries have also expressed concern that America will be so isolated that it will become something like in the commercials above. But perhaps this wake-up call is needed in order to come to terms and realize that we need to work together and forget about our egos or even our nostalgia.

Maybe by looking at the commercials we can come to terms and try and forgive, regardless of how long it takes. ❤

 

fLfI WINTER

Holiday Genre: Schweddy Balls

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As we look back at the holiday season, I found a few genres that are worth mentioning and also worth using for the next holiday season. Our first one features a flashback to  December 1998 and the parody of National Public Radio produced by Saturday Night Live, based in New York City. Since its first show in 1970, SNL has produced some of the best parodies and series on record, making people laugh until they either cried or peed their pants. This scene comes from the NPR parody series “The Delicious Dish,” (based on the real NPR’s The Splendid Table) with a splendid name to kick off the holiday spirit. It even made the Rolling Stones Magazine’s Top 20 of SNL’s All Time Best List at Nr. 20! Enjoy! 🙂

 

FlFiHolidays2017

Find Out the Differences between American vs German Homes: it’s where the heart is.

Find Out the Differences between American vs German Homes: it’s where the heart is.

I happen to come across this page by accident the other day as I was doing research for an article on the Files on German architecture. This one looks at the differences in housing between the US and Germany in terms of architecture and interior design, written from the experiences of two columnists who lived in these two different dwellings. Have a look at their work and the examples and feel free to comment. The link is provided. Enjoy! 🙂

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For anyone who has traveled around the US, you have seen many styles and sizes of homes, primarily built from wood or brick materials. And, unless it was a custom-built home, most homes in American subdivisions tend to be very “cookie cutter” homes with only slight differences in appearance. Visiting and living in Germany, sprawling subdivisions do not exist, homes are not built from wood or brick, and homes do not appear to be the same. Germany has some very unique differences in their homes vs. homes in the States, which the following helps explain…

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2017 Ammann Awards Voting Underway

The Wave near Glauchau (Saxony), Germany- One of the Candidates of this year’s Ammann Awards but in the category of Bridge of the Year

AS THERE ARE MANY GERMAN BRIDGES IN THE RUNNING, IT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE NOTE OF THE UPCOMING AMMANN AWARD VOTING PROCESS, PRESENTED BY SISTER COLUMN THE BRIDGEHUNTER’S CHRONICLES: 

 

 

After a long delay due to illness and other non-column related items, voting has now commenced for this year’s Othmar H. Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. This year’s entries feature a vast array of bridges- old and new from almost every single aspect. We even have a new entry from Africa and that bridge is unique because of its historic and aethetic features that warranted its candidacy endorsement by one of our followers. For the first time, we have a re-entry of one candidate because of missing bridges and/or information provided by the locals which had not existed from last year’s entry.  And for the third time, a lifetime legacy candidate entered the category and it appears he might finally win this one, assuming he can beat out a massive amount of compatition.

So who will win the Ammann Awards this year? This is where you as the reader can decide. Just simply click onto the link here. This will take you to the wordpress version of the Chronicles, where the ballot is posted. Follow the instructions there and you are free to choose which bridges and persons deserve to win the Awards.

Voting will close on January 7th with the winners of the Ammann Awards to be announced afterwards. As usual, it will be done after the author presents his Author’s Choice Awards.

While the category of Best Photo features the finest photos on the ballot, the candidates in the other categories each have a link and/or short summaries so that you can easily decide which ones deserve the awards.  For instance:

Mystery Bridge:

Shoe Bridge in Chemnitz, Germany

Turner Truss Bridge in Chemnitz, Germany

The Whitesboro Bridge in Oklahoma

Elevator Bridge at Kappelbach (in Chemnitz), Germany

Bienertstrasse Bridge in Dresden, Germany

The Twin Bridges of Salisbury, Connecticut

Ancient Bridge over a Waterfall in Erfurt, Germany

Thatched Roofed Covered Bridge in St. Peter-Ording, Germany

Brick Culverts at Westerhever, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Small Bridge with Unique Railing and Plaque at Eibenstock, Germany

The Stone Arch Bridges of Zschorlau (Saxony), Germany

The Bedstead Truss Bridge at Muscatine, Iowa

 

Lifetime Achievement:

Nels Raynor of BACH Steel- For over two decades, Nels has successfully restored dozens of historic truss bridges made of metal thanks to his expertise in welding and his steadfast assistance with other bridge preservationists in identifying and restoring relict crossings of the path. This includes the most recent completion of the restoration of Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in Arkansas. More details on him and BACH Steel you will find here.

James Baughn of Bridgehunter.com- In 2002, James created a database devoted to historic bridges in the Midwestern part of the United States. Fast-forward to the present, and you will find one of the most comprehensive bridge database websites in the country with information and photos of almost every bridge available, both present and past and regardless of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. His website you will find here.

Nathan Holth of HistoricBridges.org- A product of a high school genius who later became a history teacher and advocate of preserving historic bridges, Nathan Holth’s website focuses on historic bridges and its documentation that is more detailed than with the nationally-known documentation of historic artefacts, such as HABS/HAER and the National Register in which he recommends alternatives to demolishing historic bridges. In its 15th year, Nathan has covered two-thirds of the US plus half of Canada. The website with all his work can be found here.

Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler of Bridgemapper.com- Like Nathan Holth and James Baughn, this duo from Pittsburgh has a website that is focused on the historic bridges in western Pennsylvania with a focus on the greater Pittsburgh area. An interactive map with information on the existence and evolution of these geniune structures can be found here.

Nic Janberg of Structurae.net- While James Baughn plans to expand Bridgrhunter.com to include the international bridges, he may want to take some lessons from this man from Dusseldorf, Germany, home of the International Structural Database, Structurae.net. Created and maintained by Janberg and running since 2001, this database features information and photos of not only bridges- past and present, but other unique architectural works as well as their engineers and architects. To look at the website and information, click here.

Mary Charlotte Aubry Costello- In the mid-1980s, the social studies teacher from Waterloo, Iowa started travelling and sketching historic bridges along the Mississippi River as part of a book project presenting some interesting facts and images of these unique structures from her eyes. In the end, there were two volumes of work (produced in 1998 and 2002, respectively) that are still being read to this day. More on the book here.

Dave King- A bridge photographer who has contributed to Bridgehunter.com, Dave has presented some unique bridges for the state of Iowa, many of which are still standing albeit closed to traffic.

Royce and Bobette Haley- A husband-wife photo-duo, this couple has lit up the Bridgehunter.com website with their bridges as part of their cross-country bridgehunting tour. They have been doing this since 2013 and are still going strong.

 

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge:

Green Bridge in Des Moines, Iowa- This three-span through truss bridge received a massive make-over last year and part of this year, which included new decking, new paint, new pin-connected joints and new LED lighting. Some information on this bridge can be found here.

Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in Conway County, Arkansas- This 1870s iron bridge literally was brought back from the brink. Found leaning to one side, Raynor, Julie Bowers and crew worked together to relocate it and restore it to its former glory. Details here.

Marine’s Bridge in Wisconsin

Gospel Street Bridge in Paoli County, Indiana- Destroyed by a semi-truck on Christmas Day, workers put the old truss bridge together, piece-by-piece to make it look like new again. A Christmas gift for the people of Paoli.

Allan’s Mill Covered Bridge in Miami County, Ohio

Bowstring Arch Bridge at Merrimack College in Boston

Bowstring Arch Bridge at Columbiana County Fairgrounds in Ohio

Ponte Pince Sao Vincente in Santos, Brazil- This suspension bridge, built in the 1910s, received a massive make-over which included new decking and cables as well as some work on the towers. More on this project here.

War Eagle Bridge in Benton County, Arkansas

 

Tour Guide International (Click onto the name to access the websites):

Cambridge, England

Glauchau (Saxony), Germany- This was reentered due to additional bridges and information contributed by locals and historians. It had finished fifth in last year’s standings.

Aue/Schneeberg (Saxony), Germany- This is a combination of tour guides for Aue, Schlema, Schneeberg and Zschorlau. There are two parts: Part I and Part II.  As a bonus, an exclusive on the Stone Arch Bridge at Schlema is included here. Zschorlau’s Bridges are under the Category of Mystery Bridges.

St. Petersburg, Russia- There are several websites but they have been bundled into one mini-library guide here.

London (UK)

Winnepeg, Canada- There is a historic guide (here) and a present tour guide (here)

Quebec City, Canada

Rochlitz (Saxony), Germany.

 

Tour Guide USA (Click onto the names for access to the bridges):

Clinton County, New York

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

The Bridges of the Wabash-Erie Canal/ Delphi, Indiana: Two links: Delphi and the Canal

Hennepin Canal in Bureau County, Illinois

Duluth, Minnesota

Cincinnati, Ohio

The Drawbridges of Chicago

The Bridges of Cleveland, Ohio

The Bridges of Marshall County, West Virginia

The Bridges of Wheeling, West Virginia

Bridges to the Past in Hardin County, Kentucky

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge (USA):  (Click onto the names of the bridges for photos and info)

Belleville Bowstring Arch Bridge

Mill Creek Truss Bridge in Ft. Scott, Kansas

Old Highway 69 Peaceble Creek Bridge in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma

Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, MN

Niland’s Corner Bridge near Colo, Iowa

Sarto Bridge in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

Johnson Bridge in Stillwater County, Montana

Brooklyn Army Arsenal Footbridges, New York (Brooklyn)

Sugar Island Bridge in Illinois

Lakewood Park Truss Bridge in Salina, Kansas

Bridge of the Year:

Bockau Arch Bridge near Aue (Saxony), Germany- the 400 year old bridge is slated for replacement even though there is a movement to stop the process.

Green Bridge in Waverly, Iowa- This 1910s bridge is the focus of politics where three sides (preservationists, proponents of a 2-lane bridge abd proponents of a pedestrian bridge) are vying for its future.

Frank J. Wood Memorial Bridge in Maine- Locals are going head-to-head with Maine DOT over this bridge, with the former wanting to keep the bridge in use.

Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in Conway County, Arkansas- A masterpiece of preservation saving it from disaster and making it a new crossing.

Pulp Mill Bridge in New Hampshire

The Wave in Glauchau (Saxony), Germany- first bridge in the world to have a suspension span whose roadway is draped over the pylons.

Mathematic Bridge in Cambridge, UK a key landmark in the University City that is now a puzzle game.

Goteik Viaduct in Myammar– a find by a pair of tourists that is unheard of at present. Really tall but over a century old steel railroad viaduct

Cobban Bridge in Chippewa County, WI the future of the two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge is in the balance after it was closed off to all traffic. Again, progressives and preservations are fighting over its future.

Hvita Bridge in Iceland- a rare, unheard of historic landmark on a remote island.

Cedar Covered Bridge in Madison County, Iowa three juveniles tried burning this bridge down. The bridge is being rebuilt AGAIN!

The Covered Bridges of New Brunswick, Canada- These bridges are unique in their length and histories but in danger due to age, weather extremities and carelessness.

 

 

New ICE-Line and ICE City Erfurt Opens

ICE-T train stopping at Erfurt Central Station. Photo taken in March 2017

New High-Speed Line Opens after 25 Years of Planning and Construction. Erfurt and Leipzig to become ICE Cities. 80 ICE trains expected in Erfurt daily.

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BERLIN/ MUNICH/LEIPZIG/ERFURT/COBURG/JENA- It took the signing of former (now late) German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s signature to allow for the project to begin- 25 years ago. That in itself was as historic as US President Dwight D. Eisenhowers signature in 1956 to launch the US Interstate Highway System. It took 25 years, from the time of its signature until the time of its completion, costing over 12 billion Euros, and resulting in 37 bridges- including the 8.6 kilometer long Elster-Saale Viaduct near Halle (the longest in Germany)- two dozen tunnels and the complete makeover of five different stations- the main ones of which are in Erfurt and Leipzig.

And now, Frankenstein has come to life!  🙂 The new ICE line between Berlin and Munich has opened. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Richard Lutz (CEO of the Deutsche Bahn), German Transportation Minister Christian Schmidt as well as the primeministers of the states of Bavaria, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia plus many celebrities were on hand to open the ICE-Line as a pair of ICE-3 trains passed through the new stops of Nuremberg, Erfurt, and Leipzig-Halle as they started from Munich and ended in Berlin. The ceremony happened today with the grand ceremony taking place at Berlin Central Station.

With that new line, not only will the cities of Leipzig and Halle will profit from the long-distance trains stopping there on a daily basis, but also the ICE City Erfurt in central Thuringia, where as many as 80 ICE-trains will stop to board people on a daily basis travelling on the N-S axis between Berlin and Munich via Nuremberg, as well as between Dresden and Frankfurt via Leipzig on the W-E axis.  Along the N-S axis, one can travel between the German and Bavarian capitals in just over four hours, two less than its current travel. Between Dresden and Frankfurt, it is expected that trains passing through Erfurt will need only three hours instead of the normal five.  Planned is the new ICE-Sprinter connecting Berlin with Munich with a stop only in Erfurt. That stretch will take only under four hours.  Another is planned for Halle-Munich and Nuremberg-Berlin, each of which will take less than three hours.

Prior to the opening of the new ICE line, a person needed over six hours along the line that went through Naumburg, Jena, Saalfeld, Lichtenfels and Bamberg. That line will be relegated to Regio-trains which will be a total inconvenience to people living in Jena and points to the east. With that will mark the end of long-distance service for the first time in over 115 years. The state of Thuringia is working with the Deutsche Bahn to provide better access, which includes a new long-distance InterCity station in Jena to be opened in 2024.  (More on that here).  The ICE line will mean more development for Erfurt, as the ICE-City plans to build a new convention center and series of hotels and restaurants around the station to better accommodate customers and visitors to Erfurt.

ICE-4. Photo by Martin Lechler

The new line will mark the debut of the newest ICE train, the ICE 4, which will travel alongside the ICE 3 from Munich to Berlin. The ICE-T will continue to serve between Dresden and Leipzig (for more on the train types, click here).  At the same time, the older two models will be phased out bit-by-bit after having travelled tens of thousands of kilometers for over 25 years. The newest models can travel over 300 km/h and has compartments for bikes, available upon reservation.

While the new line, scheduled to be part of the train plan come 10 December, will compete with the airlines and automobile in terms of travel time, there is a catch that many people do not like: From Berlin to Munich, one will have to pay at least 125 Euros one-way, 40 Euros more than with the present route. Despite having more Regio-trains providing access to Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle from Jena and elsewhere, it will become an inconvenience when it comes to changing trains and having to rush to the nearest ICE train with very little time left.

Still it is up to the Bahn to decide how to adjust to the situation as it plans to allow for time for people to adjust and get used to the new line. After a year or so, it will make some adjustments to better serve customers who are out of reach of the new line. By then, one will find out whether the billions spent on this project was worth its salt.

Video on the VDE8 Project- the ICE Line Berlin-Erfurt-Munich:

And a map of the new line: