Climate of Greece
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The climate in Greece is predominantly Mediterranean. However, due to the country's unique geography, Greece has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. To the west of the Pindus mountain range, the climate is generally wetter and has some maritime features. The east of the Pindus mountain range is generally drier and windier in summer. The highest peak is Mount Olympus, 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). The north areas of Greece have a transitional climate between the continental and the Mediterranean climate. There are mountainous areas that have an alpine climate.
Although, the climate of Greece is typically Mediterranean, it depends on the location you are at. The record hot and record cold temperatures are 48°C or 118°F (the hottest in mainland Europe, in Athens) and -29.9°C or -21°F (in the north-west city of Florina, commonly referred to as the coldest area in Greece), respectively.
Winter in Greece isn't very mild, because the country is hilly and it's closer to Siberia, than other places in the Mediterranean. It is relatively mild in coastal and low-lying regions, cool in the flat northern areas and cold in mountains and inland areas around the country and everywhere (especially in the north-west) rains are very frequent. However, different situations may occur:
- When the country is reached by gusts of warm air from North Africa, day highs may go well above 15°C (in some cases they may touch 20°C) and stay above 10°C even at night.
- However, the country is reached by cold waves (from Siberia, but sometimes and from the Arctic), temperatures, may plunge below -15°C, in the north away from the sea and in the most intense ones they may go below -20°C. However these waves are usually felt in the north and the east, due to the fact that Pindus mountain range prevents Bora (cold, dry northeastern wind) from entering western Greece, so that it has milder climate that eastern Greece does. Snowfalls are common in the northern and mountainous areas, the north-west city of Florina has on average 27 days with >1cm of snowfall, relatively uncommon in the south and eastern low-lying areas, rare in the west and the Aegean Islands, and extremely rare in the Dodecanese Islands, where it practically never snows nor freezes.
Spring is a pleasant transitional season, with the weather being very unpredictable. March is still cold and rainy, especially in the north, while by April, temperatures start to rise, but snowfalls are still possible until the early days of the month. Although spring follows a specific pattern, as mentioned before, can be very unpredictable. Temperatures may touch 25°C in March, while they can enter single digits still in May (especially in the north-west). They can plunge below 0°C (32°F) in early April, while they may go above 30°C by the end of the month. At the end of the season the first afternoon thunderstorm start to develop in the north. Sometimes in winter, but particularly in spring, when Sirocco, a southwest wind, prevails, Greece is affected by sandstorms from the Sahara Desert. This reduces visibility and creates haze that may be unhealthy for elderly people. It however lasts only a couple of days, even hours.
Summer is hot, sunny and dry. Although nighttime lows are around 25°C and daytime highs are around 34/35°C in most areas, Greece, due to its position is reached by heat waves from Africa and then, especially in Attica and Thessaly temperatures may go above 40°C. In the Aegean Sea, the Etesians decrease temperatures by 2/3°C compared to the mainland, and the sea is therefore a little bit cooler. Rains are virtually non-existent in the south, where the weather is almost always sunny, while in the north they mostly occur in the form of thunderstorms. In the mountains heat is tempered by the altitude.
Autumn is a pleasant, transitional season like spring, but rains are more abundant especially in November. It isn't unusual for summer being extended into autumn, with temperatures as high as 30°C until mid-October. September is even considered a summer month. However when November comes, temperatures gradually decreases, rains become more frequent and the first snowfalls occur in the northern inland areas. By late-September the Etesians stop blowing.
Note: Due to Pindus mountain range rain shadow effect, drying the moisture of the western winds, eastern Greece gets significantly less precipitation than western Greece does. That's why there are some places in the country that have semi-arid climate. Cold semi-arid climate is found in some parts of the plains of Thessaly and Macedonia, while hot semi arid climate is found in the Cyclades, eastern Peloponnese and Attica (including Athens Riviera).
Probably the most well known local winds in Greece are the etesians (also known as meltemia). With their name notating their annual fluctuation (έτος (étos) means year in Greek), these winds may blow from May to October, with their highest frequency being recorded in July and August. They keep temperatures and diurnal temperature fluctuations in the Aegean sea lower than the respective ones found in the Ionian sea or mainland Greece.
- "Olympus the First National Park". Management Agency of Olympus National Park. Management Agency of Olympus National Park. 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2015.