Your Winter Service Berlin

Snow Line

In winter the snow line is an important indicator in the weather report for winter sport fans and drivers. While winter sport fans hope for a snow line that is as low as possible in order to not have to drive quite so far to be able to partake in their sport, drivers are relieved if their driving route is below the snow line and therefore free of snow.

The snow line is the border until which precipitation falls as snow. Below the snow line it rains; the snow crystals in this case have already melted. The line cannot be drawn clearly; it also depends on the air and wind conditions. As a rule of thumb one can assume that snow continues to fall up to approx. 300 m below the 0° C line - but does not stick for any period of time but instead melts. Drivers can therefore expect wet driving conditions that are neither frozen nor covered with snow below the snow line defined by the weather service. The snow line is also an indication for skiers whether there will be fresh snow in a certain skiing area or whether they will only come across old snow.

The snow line depends on the season and regional conditions. In the arctic and Antarctic the snow level is at sea level practically all year round. In Central Europe, depending on the temperatures, it can also drop to sea level during winter and then cover the whole country. Winters during which there is not a lot of snow and during which the snow fall is limited to the high mountain and medium mountain ranges has become the norm.

Flat land remains virtually free of snow, except for a few exceptions. In Mediterranean areas there can be snow during the winter but usually it does not last a long time and does not stay on the ground. But there is even a snow limit in the tropics, though it is limited to mountains that are higher than 5,000 m.

One must differentiate between snow fall limit and snow line. The snow fall limit depends on the weather and provides information on up to how many meters snow will fall above the sea level. The snow line depends on the climate and provides information on from which level upwards the snow will remain. This limit depends on
climate-related and geographic conditions. In the Alps it is approx 3,000 m. Above this line there is snow all the time, whereby the line itself can be lower when the region is more northerly or easterly than in southern regions. It is less important for winter athletes because this line applies for old snow and new snow and skiers clearly prefer new snow.