A wide band of snow up to 30 centimetres deep covered much of northern Germany across Lower Saxony to Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, while along the Baltic coast winds created snowdrifts much deeper.
By Tuesday more central parts of the country will get what many hope will be the last big blast of winter, as it moves further south.
“The mild air from the south is hitting the cold,” said meteorologist Dorothea Paetzold from the German Weather Service (DWD). That was why the cold front was only moving slowly towards the Alps.
Western regions will feel the chill and snow on Tuesday, as a French low heads eastwards, she said. “The Rhineland will be hit during the morning rush hour. The amount of snow could create storm conditions in some areas,” she said.
And by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, this front will hit the southern parts of the country, with snowfall and top temperatures of only 4C.
Hamburg saw practically constant snowfall, while in Schleswig-Holstein schools were closed in the Plön, Ostholstein and Segeburg regions. Harburg in Lower Saxony saw 84 schools also closed.
“It was not possible for our road clearance services to make the roads safe for school traffic as it would not stop snowing,” said Bernhard Frosdorfer from the Harburg district administration.
Five trucks in the Stormarn area of Schleswig-Holstein felt the effects on the A1 motorway, either slipping into the ditch at the side of the road, or against the central reservation. Some ended up blocking the road, forcing police to close it for hours and leading to queues leading back into Hamburg.
Hundreds of less serious road accidents were registered across Lower Saxony, while the Cologne-Frankfurt autobahn A3 was badly affected by black ice.
Meteorologists said the weather was not likely to improve until the weekend – temperatures would remain in single positive digits during the day, dipping below zero at night – and even double digits of frost where the skies are clear.