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Could Germany see a white Christmas this year?

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Could Germany see a white Christmas this year?
Lights illuminate the Christmas market stalls on a snowy evening in Königstein, Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

Torrential rain and flooding are likely to mark the start of the holidays in parts of northern Germany, but elsewhere there could be some surprises.

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For residents of Germany's northern coastline, wet Christmasses are undoubtedly far more common than white ones - and this year looks set to be no exception.

The German Weather Service (DWD) has put a severe weather warning in place for the whole of northern Germany due to heavy rainfall, storms and gale-force winds. The warning is expected to last until Saturday evening.

Coastal regions will be hit by Storm Zoltan on Thursday, with fierce winds of up to eleven or twelve - the highest on the scale - striking along the North Sea and parts of the Baltic coast and on exposed islands like Heligoland. 

With heavy rainfall expected, Hamburg is likely to see more flooding. According to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, the Elbe river could reach a storm surge of 1.5 metres above mean high tide towards the end of the week.

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The overcast and wet weather will continue into next week, making it very unlikely that this part of German will see a white Christmas.

On Christmas Eve on Sunday, the maximum temperature is expected to be between four and ten degrees in this region, so there is little chance of ice or snow, meteorologist Frank Böttcher said on NDR.

READ ALSO: Widespread pre-holiday traffic chaos expected on German roads

What about the rest of the country? 

In the rest of Germany, the chances of waking up to a winter wonderland on Christmas Day are unfortunately also quite slim.

However, meteorologists say unexpected developments in weather patterns have heightened the chance of a smattering of snowfall after all.

Speaking to Tagesspiegel on Tuesday, DWD's Marcel Schmid said the weather had the potential to change rapidly in the run-up to Christmas Day.

"Anything is possible, from intermittent showery snowfall to stormy conditions and continuous rain," he said.

Hamburg harbour heavy rain

Pedestrians walk around Hamburg harbour in torrential downpour. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

That means that many regions could see mild and rainy spells at the end of the week but a sudden drop in temperatures on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Up in the mountains, temperatures could even swing between minus ten and plus ten over the coming days.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Das Schmuddelwetter

Lowering expectations, climatologist Andrew Walter at DWD said snow would be most likely at regions in higher altitudes from 500-700 metres above sea leavel.

"But there won't be anything lasting there either," he told Tagesspiegel.

At lower altitudes, a blanket of snow could well form briefly over the holidays, but damp conditions mean its unlikely to last too long.

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