Salzburg’s position at the northern reach of the Alps gives its weather a few quirks. Winters bring cold and snow, sometimes in quite dramatic amounts. Lovely temperate springs, fragrant with blooming flowers, give way to warm, even hot summers. Fall with its bright colours lasts well into October, even November, making it a pleasant time to visit when the bustle – and crowds – associated with the Festival have calmed. Fasting-moving thunderstorms pass through at times, then give way to sun again. Rain may break into these during the cycle, virtually any time, lasting a few hours or a few days.
However, perhaps the most notable weather phenomenon Salzburg is known for is Schnürlregen, or string rain.
I’d never seen anything like string rain before moving to Salzburg. It falls heavily, steadily, and nearly perfectly perpendicular, a thick silver curtain. As it hits the pavements and the roofs, it thrums in a deep, regular beat. Like translucent weighted cords, the rain falls with such force that mists arise between my window and the dense wall of green trees that stand not 50 metres away.
The good news about string rain is that it doesn’t blow sideways, so shelter can be found in narrow spaces. Under an umbrella, a covered porch or the awning of a shop front, one can watch the rain more or less comfortably. And during warmer season, the temperature doesn’t drop dramatically with the rain either.
So if you’re coming to Salzburg, keep in mind the possibility of rain. Depending on the season, pack a coat, a jacket or a lightweight rain coat. Plan to keep an umbrella or a rain poncho handy. But don’t worry: there’s plenty to do in Salzburg even when it rains!