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Andorra - Climate and Weather
The distance between the northern boundary with France and the southern border with Spain is just 25.4 kilometres, or 15.6 miles. The span from east to west is only a touch longer, being 30.1 kilometres, or 18.7 miles, at its widest point.
Andorra is entirely surrounded by France and Spain, and has no direct access to the sea. The terrain is mountainous, being part of the Pyrenees Mountain Range, and high, with the Coma Pedrosa Peak reaching 2946 metres (9665 feet) above sea level.
There are few areas of relatively flat land, and on the valley floor you will usually find a river. The River Runer sits at the lowest point of the principality, at 840 metres or 2755 feet above sea level. The River Valira, the main Andorran river, has a number of branches and river basins.
Andorra also boasts a number of beautiful lakes, which are usually named after the nearest high mountain peak. Lake Estanyó, for example, is named after the mountain Pic de l'Estanyó.
Winter Weather In Andorra
Since Andorra is landlocked, there are no coastal influences affecting weather conditions.
Although the principality is large enough to be divided into seven local government areas, it is all one region and so does not have regional variations in climate.
The high altitudes mean both mountains and valleys are covered in snow for much of the severe winters. Even the lowest lying valleys are almost 900 metres (3000 feet) above sea level, so are not protected from the cold and snow.
Average winter daytime temperatures in lower valley towns, such as Andorra la Vella, are around 2.5 °C, or 36.5 °F, although the temperature drops below freezing once it is dark.
Meanwhile, towns such as Soldeau, at a higher altitude, will experience average daytime temperatures of -3 °C or 26.5 °F as a matter of course in January and February. The winter conditions are more severe the higher you go into the mountains, and the snow will take longer to melt when spring and summer arrive, finally disappearing in about July.
Summer In Andorra
The climate in Andorra is moderate once winter is over. In many valley areas, warm summers are the norm from May onwards, with typical daytime temperatures averaging 19°C (66 °F) during July and August. A hot day will reach pleasant heights of about 25 °C (77 °F). However, after dark, temperatures drop significantly even in the height of summer.
Much of the country’s precipitation, often falling as snow, occurs between October and May. That said, Andorra is no stranger to powerful summer thunderstorms, and the capital Andorra la Vella experiences its heaviest rainfall during May and June when those thunderstorms arrive.
July is the month with the most sunlight, at an average of 15 hours per day. By December, sunlight drops to an average of nine hours a day. However, don’t underestimate the power of the sun when snow is on the ground; sunglasses are an essential item for anyone using the ski slopes or enjoying après-ski drinks.
What To Wear In Andorra In Winter
Millions of tourists each year arrive in Andorra to enjoy the skiing and other mountain pursuits. That requires a long list of equipment in itself and must include specialist clothing.
You need to be comfortable spending hours on – or occasionally tumbling into! – the snow. Your clothes need to be made from breathable fabric to prevent you overheating as you enjoy the exercise. Make sure you hang up ski clothing after use so it has time to dry out thoroughly before you wear it again, plus stuff your footwear with newspaper so it dries too.
A good pair of walking boots is required, despite the substantial effort made by Andorran businesses to clear the pathways and roads. You never know when the weather will turn bad or if a pathway hasn’t been cleared properly, especially after dark. Walking boots should have a good grip to reduce your risk of slipping, be made from materials to keep your feet dry, and may provide support for your ankles to protect you if you fall.
Sunglasses are essential during the winter, to protect your eyes both from the sunshine and from the glare reflected by the snow. If you normally wear prescription glasses, it is possible to buy skiing sunglasses which fit over your everyday frames.
The reflected glare of the snow will also quickly burn your skin if you don’t regularly reapply a high factor sunscreen.
When not skiing or taking part in other sporting activities, you will find layers useful. The bars and restaurants are normally well heated to a comfortable temperature, but outside you will need a good, warm coat accompanied by a hat and gloves. A scarf will help keep your face and neck warm.
What To Wear In Andorra In Summer
Summer temperatures in Andorra are pleasant and not uncomfortably hot. Days can be changeable, so if you set off with shorts and a t-shirt, you may need a light, long-sleeved top a couple of hours later.
Since there are frequent thunderstorms, take a lightweight mac or raincoat on any trip outside.
The same need for protection from the sun applies in summer as much as the snow-covered winter. Sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat and access to clean drinking water are all summer essentials in Andorra.
Avalanche Risk In Andorra
Andorra suffers very few natural disasters and most of the time the environment is stable. However, the great quantities of snow that arrive every winter unfortunately bring a real risk of avalanche.
An avalanche will occur for any number of reasons and cannot be predicted. Sometimes they fall onto housing and kill the occupants, whilst other times groups of off-piste skiers will find themselves suddenly buried in tons of snow from which they cannot escape. Even local guides are sometimes killed by these sudden events.
The risk of avalanche is carefully monitored by local specialists. If you are warned about the conditions in your area, take careful note and follow the official advice.
Even if you haven’t heard of any immediate avalanche risk, avoid going out alone to any area where snow is piled up a mountainside nearby. Make sure other people know where you are going and do not deviate from your communicated plans. If an avalanche occurs, rescue teams will put their own lives at risk trying to find anyone who may be buried far below the snow’s surface, so they need a good idea of where you were going.
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