Bavarian Forest
National Park

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Block of rock  (Photo:Alice Alteneder)

The raw climate of the inner Bavarian Forest is described exaggeratedly by the people as “winter for three quarters of the year and cold for one quarter", but with its high precipitation and low average temperatures it accords with the sub-continental climatic features of southeast German low mountain ranges. The region’s climate is subject to both maritime and continental influences.

The maritime element is reflected in the pattern of precipitation. Poor weather fronts from the Atlantic reach the eastern limit of the prevailing westerlies and pile into the transverse mountain ridges, as do the damp air masses from the Mediterranean. Maximum summer precipitation occurs in the months of June and July, and that’s followed by a winter maximum in the months of December and January.

Annual precipitation in the valleys between 600m and 700m (up to 900m) above sea level ranges from 1100mm to 1300mm, on the hillsides between 700m and 1150m it is between 1100mm and 1400mm, and for the high areas above 1150m between 1400mm and 1800mm (up to 2500mm), whereby fog plays a significant role here. On average an increase in the amount of precipitation of 90mm can be reckoned with for every 100m in altitude. In the growing season from May to August between 450mm and 750mm of the annual precipitation can be expected (weather station in Waldhäuser). Some 30-40% of the annual precipitation falls as snow. Heavy snow cover is characteristic of the region.

Temperatures are determined by continental influences. In relation to altitude the average temperature generally falls by 0.5° Celsius for each 100m. The high areas and the summit regions have an annual temperature of between 3° and 5° Celsius. The snow cover remains for 7 - 8 months in these conditions. Deciduous trees requiring warmth are most unlikely to be found here apart from the sycamore maple and rowan, and it is natural spruce forest that shapes the vegetation. The hillsides are the climatically most advantaged part of this landscape with average annual temperatures of between 4.5° and 7.5° Celsius and a period of snow cover of 4 – 6 months. This is the mixed mountain forest zone with the beech as the characteristic species. With their high percentage of damp mineral and marshy soil, the hollow-like valleys form, particularly in autumn and winter, so called “cold air lakes", but there can also be frosts on clear nights in the summer months. This temperature inversion is a feature of the valleys. The average annual air temperature is between 3.5° and 6° Celsius, and the snow cover lasts 5 – 6 months. The natural forest ecosystems are therefore dominated by the spruce, which is the most tolerant of the cold and frost resistant of the native tree species.

The predominant wind directions are from the west and the southwest. Continental high pressure areas in winter on the other hand are often accompanied by an icy wind from the east, the so called Bohemian wind.