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Germany got its first widespread snowfall on Wednesday, and more could be on the way by Sunday.

“It’s starting early this year,” said Air Force Capt. John Raczkowski, of the 21st Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach Air Base, Germany.

Snowflakes that dropped late Tuesday and throughout the day Wednesday were the last throes of a system that on Saturday dropped about 5 feet of snow on the Zugspitze near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, according to Raczkowski.

The snow kept the ski slopes of the Zugspitze — Germany’s highest peak — from opening over the weekend.

“It was supposed to be the earliest opening in years,” said Andrea Winter, who works in U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch’s host nation affairs office.

Groomers couldn’t prep the slopes fast enough, and the opening has been tentatively pushed back to this weekend.

In Wednesday’s storm, Garmisch, home of the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort and the George C. Marshall Center, got about 8 inches of new snow by noon, Winter said. “This is about the third time it’s snowed,” she said.

The streets were more or less clear, with road conditions listed as “amber.” The roads were more wet than anything, Winter said.

Just a few flurries touched down in Darmstadt, but about 2 inches of snow had accumulated at the training areas of Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels by midday Wednesday, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bobby Madison, of the 7th Weather Squadron’s Detachment 2.

While the training areas had seen cold, they hadn’t seen much more than flurries until Wednesday.

“This is pretty much the first snow of the season,” Madison said.

The 21st Operational Weather Squadron issued snow warnings, watches and advisories in about a dozen German locations Wednesday, with projected accumulations of up to 4 more inches expected to fall through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

Most of Germany isn’t likely to see more snow for the next three or four days, but come Sunday, much of Germany is likely to be caught up in another storm, Raczkowski said.

Projected accumulations for Sunday’s anticipated storm weren’t available yet.

Weather terms

The 21st Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach Air Base, Germany, provides weather forecasts for all major U.S. garrisons in Europe.

It also provides warnings, watches and advisories for expected weather events, such as snow or high winds, at its Web site, http://131.54.120.150/index.cfm. Click on “Current WWAS” on the left.

The squadron’s warnings, watches and advisories are not issued based on the probability they will happen, but they are expected to occur, squadron Capt. John Raczkowski said.

Here’s what it means:

Warning — Gives details of weather events that are expected to occur within the next 1½ to two hours. The severity of weather events covered by watches and warnings is the same.Watch — Provides a “heads-up” that severe weather conditions are expected. Watches are issued many hours in advance of expected weather events.Advisory — Gives notification of a weather event that isn’t expected to have much impact, but could affect military operations.— Stars and Stripes

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