Devastating Super-Cell Storms August 2023 Over Bavaria

August 2023 saw extreme weather events in Middle Europe. It wasn’t so many events, but a couple of significant storms. A number of super cells in Germany led to damage. There were some typical weather patterns in Upper Bavaria along the alps, where notorious hail-stripes are well-known, but the intensity of extreme weather was surprising.

One of the most significant extreme weather events happend on August 26 in the afternoon. Two supercells brought incredible amounts of hail in Southern Germany. A number of 123 places were affected, according to German Weather Service DVD. The separate weather systems rolling over Bavaria with a distance of 100 km. The two super-cells left a trail of destruction at a length of 130 km. The strip of hail had a width of 15 km. In that zone there was a lot of destruction in Benediktbeuern with a well-know monastery and Bad Bayersoyen. In some places hail had diameters more then 5cm, which turns them into bullets with high speed. Between the strips there was no such destruction but strong gusts of wind. The maps of the Europan Severe Weather Database deliver an impression of the two trails of destruction.

Heavy Thunderstorm on August 13 with intense lightning

Before these events, there were also heavy thunderstorms on August 13. These storms were coming from Baden-Wurttemburg. The video on the stormypictures.de Youtube Channel shows how the storm quickly intensifies. There was also a remarkable amount of lightning. The immense rate of lightning lit the sky and lasted unusually long.

There are no fundamental new weather patterns here, but what happened is what climate-researchers predicted a long time ago. A hotter and wetter atmosphere contains more energy. This energy is a precondition for stronger storms as these super-cells. And it is not only a warmer atmosphere. Early this year, researchers detected unusual warm surface temperatures in the oceans for example the atlantic ocean near Florida.

Here is the development of the thunderstorm in the early evening hours of August 13 in Upper Bavaria, close to lake Ammersee:

The late sun illuminates towering thunderstorm clouds

At first sight the huge tower of clouds looked  impressive but not as monstrous it became.

There was an incredible dynamic in the chaotic atmosphere

Within minutes the sky changes and dark clouds approached fast. In the upper half a rotating pattern appeared.

Lighting strikes came close very fast and a huge curtain with fall stripes appeared.

This storm brought intense rain and hail in some places. Later there was intense lightning.

The supercell storms on August 26 seen from a ship on a lake

There had been further dramatic weather events after August 13. On August 17 a monster thunderstorm set parts of Nuremberg in Northern Bavaria under water after a flash flood. The series of severe weather peaked on August 26 with the two super cells in Southern Bavaria and also dangerous thunderstorms in between. The pictures below were taken on a ship on Lake Ammersee. Here it was very hot and the sky was clear til middle of the afternoon. Then, dark clouds were arriving very fast. The orange flashing lights on the storm warning lights were activated. It was important that sailors headed back to harbour in time because the line of thunderstorms arrived fast with strong winds and rainfall later.

An unusual sight

Weather is always unique. Compared to the previous thunderstorms, the sky “looked” more like it was typical rain clouds. However these was a severe weather system at any place. The wind picked up very fast and the normally peaceful lake turned into a raging water with remarkable waves. Strong rainfall let the shore disappear in a sort of mist minutes after the wind gusts appeared. Later the evening, the weather calmed down. However the damage in many regions was dramatic.

Dark clouds approaching from South-West

The clouds quickly become darker.

Still some sunshine in the Alps before the super cell system arrives

It’s getting pretty dark even during the afternoon.

Gusts of storm at the westside of Lake Ammersee in Bavaria. A motor boat makes it barely into the harbour.

What came after the storm

The super cell weather systems were the harbingers of more extreme weather in the alps. The days later there was heavy rain and a flood created more damage in Austria. On August 28 the famous Oetztal was cut off from the outer world after a mudslide destroyed the only road. Many tourists could only leave via the Timmelsjoch mountain pass. Helicopter’s brought food and other stuff into the valley.

Only days later a high pressure system brought calm and unusually warm weather in September. The super cell storms and the following devastating floods were dire reminders what living in a new climate triggered by climate change means. It means coping with a different world, less comfortable, more unpredictable and more violent. August 2023 was also one of the hottest summers on record.

Kuhflucht Falls, Upper Bavaria

Not far from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a great motive and an adventure trail presents a unique experience and many opportunities for photographers. The Kuhflucht Falls are not as famous as the world-known Partnach Gorge, but they are worth the trip.
It’s good to know some things in advance to plan a trip there. The Kuhflucht Waterfalls have a height of 270 meters, but please do not expect one big waterfall. The stream cascades over some steps and contains three big falls. One particularly impressive cascade is near the bridge over the stream.
The falls are in some places inside a canyon. You can’t see the whole falls (except using a drone, which would require a permit), but there are many impressive motives along the way.
There are two parking lots in Farchant. One lot is where the trailhead of the hiking trail to the waterfall begins. The trail is connected to an adventure and experience trail leading through a forest with a lot of information about nature and a playground.


The lower part of the trail and the other trail offer a lot for families, and many people come here.
If you look for dramatic pictures, the season and the time of the day are important: These pictures were taken during spring after days of rain, and the snow melts. That makes a difference because much more water is cascading down over the boulders. It’s a different picture in a dry summer.
Late morning seems a good time since there is enough sunlight entering the canyon. High mountains and a dense forest with large trees surround the falls.


The trail is very comfortable in the lower part. The community of Farchant put a tremendous effort into this trail and some attractions there. After a severe storm with massive damages, the trail was repaired and reopened. Thanks to this effort, visitors can enjoy these romantic falls throughout the year. After approximately 750 metres the trail reaches a bridge over the stream.
Before the bridge, a smaller trail departs, where you can hike up a few meters to a viewpoint that offers an impressive view over the fall. After the bridge, the broad trail turns into a steep mountain path.
That path that leads higher up the mountain has a different quality. You should only do this hike if you are an experienced hiker. There is one scenic view, approximately 20 minutes from the bridge, where you can see the upper part of the gorge, but please be careful there!

You can also hike back on the “Philosophenweg” to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The Kuhflucht Falls are accessible via Train-Stop Farchant and by bus from Garmisch Partenkirchen.

The biggest fall is impressive after days of rain in spring or when the snow melts.

Standing close to the big cascades is a good feeling, it is not only the experience of majestic nature but the little water particles in the air open the airways and have a comforting effect. The effect is similar to standing at the shore of the sea and breathing the air close to the waves.

Above the bridge is a scenic view which allows a breath-taking perspective

The Kuhflucht Falls is an alternative or additional trip to the well-known destinations in the region.

Blautopf, Blaubeuren – A Location For Romantic Legends And Fairy Tales

by Peter Engelmann, August 10. 2022

Read in German

Have you ever been looking for a motive for presenting the German romanticism in pure form? The Blautopf lake near Blaubeuren in the Swabian Alb is such a motive.

The Blautopf Lake is the second largest karst spring in Germany and serves as the source of the river blue.

Visitors see a magical blue and green water, often changing its color. It is like a giant eye or portal to another world.

What else do we need for a romantic fairy-tale setting? Right. A hammer-smith and a medieval town. It’s all there. Across the blue lake of the Blautopf is a hammer-smith with a cafe and an information centre for tourists. Nearby is the city of Blaubeuren with a famous abbey. There are plenty of half-timbered houses.

Last but not least, ruins of castles sit on the top of hills above the valley.

The Blautopf and Blaubeuren are in the middle of a broad valley not far from Ulm, the biggest city in the neighbourhood. It is a popular tourist destination.

Real fairy tale Europe: The Hammer-Smith

Romantic Imagination

No wonder Blautopf lake has been an inspiration for many folk tales and romantic stories. Nix regularly stole the sounding line when researchers tried to make measurements.

The karst spring became prominent in the 19th century. This was the era of romanticism with writers as E.T.A. Hoffman and painters as Caspar David Friedrich.

Eduard Mörike, a famous German novelist and poet, incorporated many tales from the region in the romantic novella “Das Stuttgarter Hutzelmännlein”. It is a story about a journeyman travelling from Stuttgart to Blaubeuren. One folk legend is about “Die Schöne Lau”, a mermaid, and her husband, a male water-nix. She couldn’t laugh, and he punished her by confining her to the blue lake. In the end, the landlady of the Nonnenhof Inn came to her help.

Modern scientific discoveries in the region are often even more fantastic than the rich imagination of romantic writers.

The sun illuminates the magic pool

One Of Germany’s Most Impressive Water-Cave Systems

Officially, the spring basin is 22m deep, but this is not the end. Blautopf is the end of an incredible cave system. Divers use the Blautopf lake as an entry point for expeditions into the epic cave system “Blauhöhle”. It’s indeed a portal to the other world.

Cave-diving is a dangerous sport, and there was a tragic event here in 2003. There is a society, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Blautopf, which explores the cave system. The water cave was discovered in 1960-62. Later, researcher and diver Jochen Hasenmayer made incredible discoveries. Most parts of the cave are under water but there are huge domes, which are dry, underwater lakes and huge stalactites. Speleologists are fascinated by this secret subterran world which still holds many secrets. Til today, this is a dangerous territory and there is no access for the public. However there are amazing documentaries about expeditions into the cave system as From The Blue, Into The Dark, which are highly recommended.

Reflections on the still water surface, underwater plants, light and shadow. A mysterious place.

Practical Guidance

The best time for photography and videography is in the morning hours during summer. This is a motive which looks better when the sun is shining. The impressive blue color is a result of the nanoscale limestone particles. They are densely distributed in the lake. The particles cause a raylight scattering effect.

You might want to consider also autumn for a visit. The trees are mostly deciduous trees. That will make a wonderful color palette with the magic blue Blautopf lake on the one side and the red and yellow colors of the leaves.

The Blautopf is easy accessible. It is a 25 minute walk from the train station in Blaubeuren. Blaubeuren is approximately 16 km from Ulm. The train ride is around 12 minutes from Ulm. Trains come frequently. Stuttgart is approx 80 from Blaubeuren. There is a huge parking space close to the Blautopf.

A flaltly leads around the Blautopf lake. From there there are many different perspectives of the blue water and the hammer-smith.

Having surrounded the Blautopf the trail leads straight into the medieval town Blaubeuren.

Close to the Blautopf: The Blaubeuren Abbey. Inside there is museum and the historical bath house of the monks. If there is still time the URMU, the Urgeschichtliche Museum, is another highlight in this amazing town. Traces of human presence in the Swabian Alb go back to 40 000 B.C. and in the museum there are some rare relicts.

Majestic Mountains And An Enchanted Forest – The Schwarzwasser Valley, Austria

by Peter Engelmann, July 28. 2022

The famous Kleinwalsertal is a popular tourist destination in winter and summer. It belongs to the province of Vorarlberg. The Kleinwalsertal belongs to Austria, but you get only there from Germany. It is an Austrian enclave. The name Walser refers to history: First Settlement came from the South, from Switzerland. The valley with many scenic places begins near Oberstdorf. The main villages in the high mountain area are Mittelberg, Hirscheeg and Riezlern. At the end of the head of the valley is Baad. From the Kleinwalsertal, many trails lead into beautiful and spectacular high valleys with mountain pastures. One of them is the Schwarzwasser Valley. This fantastic valley offers many excellent motives for photographers and videographers. It’s a must-see for anybody interested in nature due to its outstanding geological formations and rich flora. There is a peat bog on the way to the Melköde Alm.

Wilderness Around The Ifen

A good starting point for a trip into the Scharzwasser Valley is the parking spot near the Ifen ropeway and the Auenhütte. A mountain road connects the bottom station of the Ifenbahn, Hirschegg and Riezlern. There is an excellent public transportation system in Kleinwalsertal. Buses come often, and there is a bus connection to Oberstdorf in Germany. A good alternative if you don’t want to use the car. The trail starts at the end of the parking space on the left side of the station. It leads to a lake. That lake is a reservoir for the snow-making facilities in winter. This lake shimmers in magical green and blue colours.

Near the trail between the lake and the mountain pasture Melköde (where you can eat and drink during the summer) lies a mountain forest. It’s an impressive pristine mountain forest on the left side of the trail. In some places, massive rocks look like ancient relics. Even though it is very comfortable to walk there – and of course, there are often many hikers here – it is a feeling of entering the wilderness.

The intimidating Hoher Ifen is towering above the valley. This mountain is another great sight and a very interesting geological phenomenon. The mountain is more than 2200 metres high. The rough table-mountain form is quite unusual for the alps. It is a spectacular sight with its wild and unruly rock face. It is easy to imagine that our ancestors might have seen it as a holy mountain or a ritual place. It is an option to go there, when there is not a blue sky but some clouds and mist. When shrouds of mist climb up the mountains or clouds play around, the wild nature of the Ifen region comes even more to light.

Hoher Ifen Plateau

The Pastures

The trail slowly ascends. If you are interested in taking pictures of the mountain-forest, there are many motives along the trail. At one point, a small path to the left leads to a sort of column with an icon. It’s worth taking a minute and getting there. The column is on a little hill in the mountain overlooking a wild area with some further great sighs.

Some minutes later, back on the main hike the landscape opens up. If you come here on a day when the last rain clouds disappear and there is an interplay of sunlight and clouds this is like a scene from “The Lord Of The Rings”. The waterfall behind the pasture adds to the impression. These mountain pastures are unique since they belong partly to the peat bog. Cultivation and farming goes on on here for a very long time. The Melköde mountain farm goes back to 1566. It has a long history, and there were also catastrophic events. Avalanches destroyed buildings a couple of times. On one occasion, 20 people died. The wilderness is always close, and one must respect nature all the time.

Alpine Meadow Near Melköde, Schwarzwasser Valley, Kleinwalsertal

The pastures are on a plateau within the Schwarzwasser Valley at an altitude of 1350 metres above sea level. That allows special light conditions and intense colours. The meadows are great motives.

Hiking towards the Schwarzwasserhütte

After a stop at the Melköde farming house and inn, the trail enters a more steep terrain. It’s not difficult to go further, but it is now a different type of trail and demands some endurance. The trail is in excellent shape, and one can only praise the fantastic work of the people caring for this great path into the mountains. But keep in mind it’s alpine terrain and not any longer a driveway. There are some sections where attention is necessary. When it is raining, this trail is slippery.

The quality of this valley is also because of the climate and weather conditions. The temperature is moderate in summer. There is a lot of rain in the summer and snow in the winter. These are good conditions for unique vegetation with a variety of plants. It’s still a reservoir of many protected plants.

Schwarzwasserhütte, Alpine Lodge

The trail opens up again, and the rustically Schwarzwasserhütte comes into sight. That is a great place to take more pictures with fantastic views. On the left side, there are impressive grass mountains and on the other side, there is again the Ifen plateau. The Schwarzwasserhütte goes back to 1914. The German Alpenverein Sektion Schwaben runs this cosy alpine lodge. The Schwarzwasserhütte is a starting point for hikes toward the mountain peaks. Bear in mind that this is high alpine terrain and for trips to the Hoher Ifen sure-footedness is a must. But even a few metres from the alpine lodge, there are great opportunities to take pictures or videos. The alpine lodge is open in winter, too. There is accommodation too and a nice and competent team. Reservations are necessary.

But even if it is only a short stay there is enough time to take in that heavenly scenery. This is both a landscape of eternal beauty and the roughness of the wilderness.

Grassy Mountain

The Kleinwalsertal has a lot to offer. More spectacular destinations are the Breitenbachklamm on the German side and the Gottesackerplateau. This plateau, a geological formation is on the other side of the Hoher Ifen. Note: There is also a hike called “Schwarzwassertal” which leads down from the Auenhütte to Mittelberg in some guides. This is interesting too and is another gorge.