In early January, parts of Germany were engulfed by heavy snowfalls. At first the negative aspects of winter dominated the headlines. As the year began, the heaviest snowfalls for several years hit the Alpine region. The snow piled up meters high in some places and several winter resorts were cut off from the outside world. A series of avalanches claimed a number of fatalities.
Now, as February begins, the situation in Germany has eased. In many German states the winter school vacation is about to get underway and holidaymakers are delighted at the prospect of perfect conditions from the Alps to the Sauerland in south-eastern North Rhine-Westphalia. Almost all the ski areas report 10 to 30 centimeters (4 inches - 11 inches) of fresh snow. On Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze (2,962 meters, 9,717 feet), the snow is 4 meters deep.
Elsewhere, in Berlin and Hamburg, for instance, it is cold but people there are still waiting for the magic moment when winter shows itself at its most picturesque.