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Bulgaria - Climate & Weather
Bulgaria has a temperate-continental climate with moderate features. This is the climate that is characteristic for Central Europe, with hot summers and long, cold winters. There are four distinct seasons including spring and autumn. Abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country from December to mid-March, especially in some higher mountainous areas.
The annual average temperature depends on latitude and ranges from 8°C in northern parts and 11°C in the south, with temperatures of 2.6°C in the mountains and 12°C in the plains. In general, the warmest areas are in the south of Bulgaria, which are largely influenced by the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. Daytime temperatures vary from 0°C to 5°C in the winter and 25°C to 30°C in the summer months. In the southern areas it can be even warmer, while in the northern and eastern regions of Balkan mountains it can be quite cold, with moderate daytime temperatures and cold nights during the summer, and temperatures that go far below zero in the winter.
Annual average rainfall is about 700 mm, while in the mountains it reaches up to 1000 mm and around 400 mm to 600 mm on the coast. It can rain very often throughout the year, but in general winter is the driest season. During the summer, showers and thunderstorms are common, especially in the mountain ranges.
Lightweight clothes are recommended for the summer on the coast and in low inland areas. Warmer clothes are needed during the winter and throughout the year in the higher regions. Rainwear is recommended throughout the year in general.
There are two different climate zones in Bulgaria. Most regions have a Cfa Climate, which is a warm, temperate and humid climate, with the warmest period above 22°C over average and the coldest one between 18°C and -3°C. The climate in the mountainous regions is classified as a Dfb Climate, which is a humid, snowy climate with the warmest months between 10°C and 22°C and the coldest period below -3°C.
As Bulgaria is not a huge country by European standards, weather variations between the different regions are usually not more than 6 to 7 °C. Bulgaria’s climate is a combination of continental and Mediterranean influences, which means the country has four different seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) and the temperatures that vary dramatically in different periods of the year. In general, summers are quite hot and dry and winters are snowy and freezing, with spring and autumn that provide a transition period between the two.
The warmest parts of Bulgaria are in the southwest, where the Mediterranean climate effects in the valleys are particularly visible. The seaside has a mild subtropical climate that is heavily influenced by the Black Sea. The plains and lowlands in the north experience the continental weather and the mountains are known for their Alpine climate conditions. The highest temperature ever recorded in Bulgaria was 45.2 °C, while the lowest record stands at −38.3 °C.
After the harsh winter, the blossoming of the trees is the sign of the beginning of springtime, which usually occurs in March. As the temperatures gradually increase and the remaining snow melts, the fields and meadows slowly grow towards their greenest stage, which can make the landscapes look incredibly scenic. In spring, the temperatures range from 15°C to 25°C, steadily increasing from March to June. There’s certainly less sunshine than in the summer and it doesn’t rain a lot during this period. The weather can be quite foggy and turbulent, especially in March, which is an unpredictable month. Mountains above 2000 meters remain snowy until June-July, so hiking can be a bit challenging in spring, and the waters of the Black Sea are too cold for comfortable bathing until mid-June.
Bulgarian summer starts in the beginning of June, when temperatures can reach above 30 °C. July and August are the hottest months and the sun can be quite strong at midday. Temperatures above 35 °C are not uncommon. Summer days are usually clear and sunny, though when it rains, the rain arrives in the form of brief summer storms which can easily become hailstorms. Those who are not comfortable with such heat, can always feel the gentle breeze of the seaside by the Black Sea.
Summer usually ends by mid-September, when temperatures drop and the days get shorter. September and October can still be quite warm and pleasant; autumns are not particularly rainy compared to the rest of Europe. Autumn is also the season when grapes are harvested in order to make wine. Bulgarian autumn has temperatures that range from 10°C to 25°C, gradually decreasing as the winter approaches in early December. Early September may still be a good time to go to the seaside or into the mountains, but by October it usually gets too cold for both of these pursuits.
Winter starts in December, when temperatures begin to drop below zero. The end of December usually brings the first snow of the year and there's more snow than rain until March. Though it can stay below zero for weeks, when temperatures around -5°C to -15°C are common, the days can still be regularly clear and sunny. In many regions in Bulgaria winter is one of the driest seasons. Clear and sunny weather with temperatures below zero keeps the snow on the ground for a long time, which can be good for skiing and snowboarding.
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