Weird weather: Temperatures between -7C and up to 20C expected in Germany at weekend

For the weekend, the northern half of Germany will be seeing lots of snow, massive drifts and flooding, whereas the southern half will be graced with sun and mild to warm weather.

Weird weather: Temperatures between -7C and up to 20C expected in Germany at weekend
Kiel's city centre was already coated with snow on Thursday afternoon. Photo: DPA

The differences between northern and southern Germany could already be seen (and felt) on Thursday.

The north experienced chilly temperatures (-2 to +2C), while in the south and southwest the highs varied between 9C to 14C, according to the German Weather Service (DWD). 

At night the temperature was forecast to drop to -7C in the northeast, while in the southwest it will stay mostly frost-free at up to 6C.

A few people sat outside at beer garden tables in Munich on Thursday, where temperatures reached 12C. Photo: DPA

Over the weekend, temperatures will hover around freezing in the north and northeast during the day, dipping to -7C at night. In the south and southwest, the Mercury could reach 13C.

The area around the Alps could even see temperatures stretching between 15 and 20C.

On Saturday in Berlin, daytime temperatures of 0C are expected, whereas the Mercury will show a sunny 12C in Munich. In Cologne, they will be a more mild 7C, and also 7C in central Frankfurt. 

So what explains the big divide? An “air mass boundary” cutting through the Bundesrepublik separates icy polar air in the north from mild spring air in the south, according to DWD. In places where the two opponents collide, heavy rain is set to fall.

Snow storms early next week

According to initial estimates, 10 to 25 centimetres of fresh snow may fall in some areas on Monday, and in some places (especially in the northwest) amounts of 30 to 40 cm cannot be ruled out, said DWD.

In Berlin, the Mercury will stand at -6C on Monday, 3C in Munich, and 0C in both Cologne and Frankfurt.

In addition, the eastern wind from the Baltic Sea coast will bring gusts ranging from strong to stormy and may blow away the fresh new snow.

Accordingly, people in these regions should continue to have their snow shovels ready and be prepared for obstructions in road and rail traffic. Electricity outages and falling snow could also become an issue.

In the transition area between cold and warm northern and southern air, weather conditions could become severe, bringing freezing rain and black ice.

The falling rain may freeze on the ground and on objects for a longer period of time, causing severe icy conditions.

Weather: Potential of the catastrophic winter of 1978/79

In any case, people in the north should prepare for a lot of snow. 

“It could snow heavily and for a long time,” said meteorologist Tobias Reinartz of DWD on Wednesday.

“The question is how far south it will penetrate,” Reinartz said.

Weather expert Frank Böttcher said the air mass distribution over Europe currently holds the potential of the catastrophic winter of 1978/79, but warned against jumping to conclusions. 

Snow near Berlin's Alexanderplatz in February 1979. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“We are still very far away from the actual events.”

The consequences of 78-79, officially declared a catastrophe, were severe.

Metre-high snowdrifts brought road and rail traffic to a standstill and many villages were cut off from the outside world.

The Rügen causeway at the Baltic Sea became impassable in the night of December 30th due to snowdrifts up to five metres high. A total of 12,000 inhabitants and 3,000 guests were isolated from the mainland.

Onset of winter: Affected regions make preparations

First preparations are already being made: due to the expected severe onset of winter, the city-state of Hamburg has extended the winter emergency programme for the homeless. 

The shelters are to remain open all day from Friday until Monday, the social authorities announced in Hamburg on Thursday.

With temperatures in the double-digit minus range, the danger of frost and frostbite is huge for people spending long times outdoors.

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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.