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WEATHER

Seven signs that spring has arrived in Germany

Frühling has sprung in Germany. Here’s how we know.

Seven signs that spring has arrived in Germany
In Bonn, the gorgeous cherry blossoms are in full swing. Photo: DPA

Cherry blossoms are erupting

Nothing screams springtime in Germany like bursts of pink everywhere. In Frühling, streets and parks come alive with rows of Japanese Kirschblütenbäume (cherry blossom trees) decorated with pretty pink blossoms.

For around two to three weeks in April and May, rows of these beautiful cherry blossoms brighten up the country, banishing the cold winter blues.

These trees also have an interesting history.

An exported Japanese tradition, the Sakura Campaign brought the blossoming trees to Germany after reunification. Japanese channel TV Asahi collected over 140 million yen (about €1 million) to gift the trees to Germany as well as other locations in the world.

The ornamental cherry trees are very popular in Japan and are said to bring people inner peace and serenity.

The first trees in Berlin were planted in November 1990 at Glienicker Brücke (Glienicke Bridge), a site that had symbolized the division of Germany.

Nowadays, the heavenly pink petals provide lots of photo opportunities, making them a social media favourite.

In fact, Germany loves this flower so much that there are even dedicated festivals, such as the Bonn Cherry Blossom Festival held every year in the Bonn Altstadt.

Photo: DPA

SEE ALSO: 7 events you won't want to miss in Germany in April 2019

Everyone sits outside

Throughout winter, pubs, restaurants and cafes have a feeling of gemütlichkeit (cosiness) that’s aided by candles and dim lighting.

But as soon as the temperature hits 15C – or even when it's a bit cooler – you’ll find Germans outside soaking up the sunlight. 

Cafe culture comes out in full force with tables and benches placed outside again after the long break.

Even if it’s not that warm, Germans will still don a coat and swaddle themselves in scarves, enjoying the extra light that springtime brings.

In Berlin you’ll find people buying beer and drinking it outside the Spätis (late night shops). Elsewhere in Germany, people will relax by canals, rivers and in parks. Basically, people make the most of each sunny day as if there's a possibility they may never see one again. 

Well, who knows what the summer holds?

In Stuttgart recently where it was only 10C, people enjoyed eating al fresco. Photo: DPA

The number of PDAs go up

Germans are not really known for being amorous in public. Yet a little sunlight changes this.

Public displays of affection, whether it's hand holding or kissing, becomes the norm when spring hits. In Berlin's famous Mauerpark near our office, we've already spotted couples cuddling in the grass and looking loved up. It's a sure sign that spring is here. 

Photo: DPA

Ice cream shops open

Again, it doesn’t matter if it’s not that hot, Germans are so happy to be in the sunlight that they’ll enjoy ordering a tasty treat from the Eis stand,  many of which have just opened after the Winterpause. 

It’s not at the stage yet where huge queues regularly form at ice cream stalls, but those who happen to walk past will have the urge to get a sugary ice treat, the first of many this year no doubt because who can resist an Eis?

Photo: DPA

Spargel creeps onto the menu

Much-loved Spargel (asparagus) explodes in popularity at this time of year, sending normally reserved Germans into a frenzy. They just love it here.

Maybe you've spotted the first batches being sold at supermarkets.  But once Spargelzeit (asparagus season) is in full swing, you'll see it everywhere. From menus dedicated to the vegetable (Spargelsuppe or Spargeleis, anyone?) to beauty pageants held to crown the next Spargel queen (yes, really!). 

The first Spargel has been harvested! Pictured here in Klaistow, Brandenburg. Photo: DPA

Huts will be set up on roadsides by Spargel sellers, while farmers' markets will have their star veg — asparagus of the white variety — on display for all to admire and snap up. 

Much like spring, Spargelzeit is fleeting, running from around April to June, which makes the vegetable even more desirable. Make a note in your diary and get it while you can. 

SEE ALSO: German word of the day: Spargelzeit

Bikes re-appear on streets

People in Germany ride bicycles all year round of course, but there are much fewer on the streets during winter. So as the lighter nights and higher temperatures return, people dig out their bikes from the Hinterhof to ride around. So that means it's time to pay extra attention when you're crossing the road or generally going about your business. The last thing anyone wants is to collide with a bike.

Bikes that have been unused for a while are often in need of some TLC, so bike shops are bound to have a lot of customers at the moment as cyclists pour in for new brakes, air for their tyres or bike lights. 

Bring on cycling season! 

Unpredictable weather

One day the sun is shining, it’s 20C and people are practicing FKK (Freikörperkultur or 'free body culture') in the park, the next day it’s 3C and you’re shivering on the way to work.

You know it’s spring when your best companion is the Übergangsjacke – the classic in-between-seasons-jacket that you can throw on when it's chilly or tie around your waist when it's warm. It's true that the weather can be a mixed bag in spring, a bit up and down.

SEE ALSO: German word of the day: Die Übergangsjacke

That's the case in Germany this week: after highs of around 21C in some parts of the country on Saturday, over the next few days the mercury will drop. Forecasters say there could be some frost and even lows of -2C in western areas on Friday and Saturday. 

Yes it may be sunny but it could also be cold! These two women were photographed on the beach of Norderney, Lower Saxony recently. Photo: DPA

A spokesman from the German Weather Service (DWD) had these wise words: “Sensitive plants should be returned to the house or covered. Drivers shouldn’t get rid of the ice scraper just yet.

“You should postpone putting on your summer tyres for a few days.”

The lesson? Be prepared for the weather to fluctuate in spring and don't forget that it's not summer just yet. 

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WEATHER

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.

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