Around 40 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously, when a suspected tornado swept through the German town of Paderborn today, as storms buffeted the western part of the country.

Images on social media showed the distinctive spinning cyclone clouds of a tornado flinging debris through the air, though the German Weather Service did not immediately confirm that a tornado had occurred.

Police said up to 40 people had been injured in Paderborn, a town of some 150,000 half-way between Frankfurt and Hamburg. Rail and road transport were disrupted throughout the region.

In nearby Hellinghausen, images shared on social media showed that a steeple had been ripped from the roof of a church tower, with its remains scattered around the churchyard.

Police posted images showing trees felled or split in half, as well as roofs that had been swept clean of tiles by the winds in Paderborn.

"Some 40 people were injured in the storm, at least 10 of them seriously," city police said in a statement.

"Sheeting and insulation were blown kilometres away. Countless roofs are uncovered or damaged. Many trees still lie on destroyed cars."

They asked locals to stay at home. The German Weather Service warned that the stormy weather was set to continue.

Meteorologists said the extreme weather was caused by hot air coming from Africa meeting relatively cooler air moving down from northern Europe.