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White Easter to Follow Green Christmas?

Fresh Snow in Early Spring in Berlin

№ 54/2013 from Mar 19, 2013

According to meteorologists at Freie Universität, it appears that the last green Christmas will now be followed by a white Easter in many parts of northeastern Germany. The winter wonderland will be around a bit longer, says the meteorologist Petra Gebauer. It is questionable, whether the snow cover will be completely melted by Easter. She predicted that milder temperatures cannot be expected before Easter Thursday, and the night temperatures will remain cold. They are well below previous lows for the last week in March.

The meteorologist Petra Gebauer emphasized that the first half of March was not unusual in terms of snowfall or temperatures. Normally the temperatures are around freezing at night and six to seven degrees (C) above freezing during the day. During the first ten days of the month, with three days warmer than 10 degrees (C) above, it was warmer this year than average. During the night of the 13th to the 14th of March, the temperature in Dahlem fell below minus ten degrees (C). On that date in 1947, it was a bit colder at 14.2 degrees (C) below freezing.

It is also not unusual to have snow in Berlin in March. Since 1892, there has been a snow cover during the entire first half of the month of March only 14 times, most recently in 2006. That year the final snow melted by March 27. In 1970 there were 49 centimeters of snow on March 6, a record ever since measurements were recorded.

Snowfall at the calendric beginning of spring, however, is more seldom. In 122 years this phenomenon has only occurred ten times previously in Berlin, the last time in 1978. Then and now it was due to an air mass boundary over Germany, with air of Arctic origin flowing toward milder, moist air moving northward from the south. In 1978 there was a depth of three to four centimeters of snow in Dahlem, whereas by noon of March 19, 2013, there were already 16 centimeters, and more was on the way. Thus, the previous record for snow cover at the beginning of spring in Berlin from March 20, 1969, was surpassed this year by eight centimeters.

According to Petra Gebauer, it might be a small comfort for all those waiting for spring weather that this year will not bring the first "white Easter." At Easter in 2008 there was a touch of snow on the lawns in Berlin, and in 1977 on both Easter holidays, on April 10 and 11, there was fresh snow yielding a snow cover of 14 centimeters.

Further Information

Meteorologists at the Berliner Wetterkarte e.V., Institute of Meteorology, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-71212 (available seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 12:00 and 2 to 4 p.m.); Email: wetter@met.fu-berlin.de