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Country Snapshot: Climate Overview

Germany has a short Baltic Sea coastline, but the majority of the country lies within the temperate zone of Western Europe. The climate is variable with frequent changes of weather on a daily basis and with the same seasons often producing different weather from year to year. This is a consequence of the country being influenced periodically by either cold continental air masses from the east or the warming effects of the North Atlantic Drift ocean current. Four traditional seasons are recognized.


At the start of spring (March to May) inland ground frosts and snow can still be encountered, but the season is characterized by rapidly warming conditions. The season is noted in the mountainous south of the country for its föhn wind, which is a warm valley wind that begins the winter thaw process.

Summer (June to August) tends to be cool, although temperatures can occasionally exceed 30°C (86°F) in the warmest month of July. Humid westerly winds predominate this season and it generally has the wettest months of the year.

Autumn (September to November) experiences strong Atlantic low-pressure systems that can bring gale force winds and heavy rain, especially in the northwestern region.

Winter (December to February) in Germany is generally mild, but can sometimes be harsh with heavy snowfall and temperatures far below 0°C (32°F) in the southern mountainous regions. January is the coldest month with average temperatures of 2°C (35°F) in the north and about −2°C (28°F) in the south.

Regional Variations

The country can be divided into a series of distinct regions that experience different climatic conditions.

The east of the country has a continental influence on its climate. There is less rainfall and both summers and winters can record extreme temperatures.

Northern and coastal regions of the country are most prone to Atlantic storms and weather can change quickly. Generally winters are mild due to the proximity of the relatively warm sea water. Much of the north of the country is an open, low-lying plain, allowing cold air masses from the east to move rapidly across the land, and occasionally freezing rivers and canals.

The southwest region of the country is the warmest region and during summer may experience several days of continuous temperatures above 30°C (86°F). The climate is sufficiently warm to allow the cultivation of tobacco and vineyards.

The southern alpine and central German uplands have a mountain climate that becomes more severe as the land rises farther south. In the Bavarian Alps, with peaks rising to over 2,500 meters (8,200 feet), temperatures are below freezing with snow cover for several months in winter and spring.