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Spc. Michael Gonzales, with the 39th Transportation Battalion and from San Antonio, builds a snowman outside the Kleber Kaserne dining facility in Kaiserslautern, Germany, on Monday afternoon. Many American military communities across Germany received their first heavy snowfall of the season.
Spc. Michael Gonzales, with the 39th Transportation Battalion and from San Antonio, builds a snowman outside the Kleber Kaserne dining facility in Kaiserslautern, Germany, on Monday afternoon. Many American military communities across Germany received their first heavy snowfall of the season. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Winter weather blew in across much of Germany with gusto Monday, as a steady snowfall from Kaiserslautern to Grafenwöhr sent some students home early, closed military facilities and made for treacherous driving conditions.

More snow is in the forecast. Starting after mid-day Wednesday and into Thursday, central Europe could see between 4 and 8 inches, with the heavier snow expected to hit western Germany, according to Airman 1st Class Michael Mikus with the 21st Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach.

Monday’s storm hit bases in southeastern Germany the hardest. Hohenfels released post workers at noon, and Grafenwöhr followed at 1 p.m., according to the U.S. Army Europe Web site.

On-post schools in the Bavaria district also released students early Monday, a district official said.

Meteorologists at Sembach said between 4 and 8 inches were expected to fall in eastern Bavaria Monday.

As of about 3 p.m., at least eight car accidents involving property damage were reported in on- and off-post in Grafenwöhr, but no injuries were reported, said Zakary Smith, an Army civilian police officer at Grafenwöhr. People were either driving too fast for conditions or driving too close to other vehicles, he said.

“We have patrols out doing route checks,” he said. “It’s been continuing to snow all day.”

Snowfall was lighter in the Kaiserslautern area – 2 to 3 inches were forecast by late evening – but the roads were slick. More than a dozen weather-related accidents on- and off-base were reported Monday, Air Force officials said. Military law enforcement officials would not say whether any accidents resulted in injuries.

Schools were not dismissed early, but many facilities at Ramstein, Vogelweh and Kapaun did shut at 4 p.m., including community centers and libraries at all locations, and Chili’s, Macaroni Grill and J.R. Rocker’s on Ramstein. All youth and adult education classes were also canceled Monday evening.

Mission-essential operations, including dining facilities and lodging operations will remain open as scheduled, along with fitness centers, Air Force officials said.

Road conditions were also deemed hazardous in Bamberg, where base workers were released early and most Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities closed by evening.

At U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach in southern Germany, buses for DODDS after-school activities and Child, Youth & School Services sports were cancelled due to weather conditions.

DODDS-Europe officials said any decisions on school delays Tuesday won’t be made until early in the morning. Base commanders make the call. Parents should tune into AFN or check base Web sites for more information.

USAREUR posts road conditions and base closure information at: http://www.hqusareur.army.mil/ . Current weather conditions are also available on the 21st Operational Weather Squadron website at: http://ows.public.sembach.af.mil/

Stars and Stripes reporter Dan Blottenberger contributed to this story.

svanj@estripes.osd.mil

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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