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Portugal - Climate and Weather

On the whole, Portugal is one of the warmer European countries all year round but also one of the wettest. The country is influenced by the Mediterranean, Atlantic and continental climatic zones. The Azores have a subtropical climate with warm summers and changeable weather conditions in winter such as heavy rain, wind and fog. Madeira shares the same climate with similar seasonal conditions. The Algarve has a Mediterranean climate as does the rest of the south making summers long and hot, winters short and fair and springs come as early as January. The Algarve also has generally dry weather. Lisbon sees a subtropical Mediterranean climate with comfortable, short winters and summers ranging from warm to very hot. The north, influenced by the Atlantic currents experiences some warmth from the Gulf stream but due to the altitude it tends to get more rain and colder temperatures during winter although summers are comfortably warm. In central places such as Coimbra, the weather changes clearly per season with wet and cooler winters and warm summers never reaching the peak temperatures of the south. Porto in the west, due to its coastal location experiences an oceanic climate. This involves rainy winters (though it is not uncommon for 7 months of the year to be rainy) warm summers and consistently high humidity.

The regular rainfall in Portugal requires the visitor to make sure that they pack waterproof clothing with hoods for winter, spring and autumn. In spring and autumn, as well as rainwear be sure to have some light clothing and some trousers and long sleeved tops for cooler evenings. Winter requires the same care as spring and autumn but a few more layers should be packed. Summer needs light, preferably linen clothing for those hot days as well as sun protection in the form of sunglasses and hats. Footwear is less straight forward because of the changeable conditions. Visitors need to have some comfortable closed toe shoes for walking outside and open toed sandals and they should be prepared to face any weather conditions the day throws your way.

The capital city sees 3023, hours out of a potential total of 4383 hours of sunlight per year. This makes each day on average sunny for 8:16 hours. In the south, Faro experiences 3036 hours of sunlight, Porto enjoys 2468 hours and in central Portugal Coimbra sees 2480.

Humidity and moisture in the air in coastal areas such as The Algarve or Porto can worsen damp and mould in properties (particularly older ones) and also exacerbate medical issues such as asthma. In the winter many expats people rely on ventilation, dehumidifiers, trickle vents in their windows and try to encourage airflow if their home is prone to excess moisture. Those who have holiday homes which are shut up for winter need to take the most precautions. Asthma sufferers shouldn’t take any chances if they are in a high humidity area and should register with a doctor and have the necessary medication to hand. The Azores experience a fair amount of humidity in the summer which may require attention for items left against the wall. Faro sees an average annual humidity of 69%, Porto sees 77%, Coimbra sees 73% and Lisbon sees 71%.

Portugal is a country with some environmental risks. In recent years, August 2016 saw a heat wave create close to 200 forest fires which raged through mainland Spain and Madeira, killing a number of people. Unfortunately it’s not the first time fires have claimed lives this way with August 2003 seeing 19 people die as a result of forest fires in northern and central Portugal; the results of which were 10% of the country's forest area was utterly destroyed. 2013 saw hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest burnt to the ground through yet more fires and with experts warning that heatwaves will only increase in frequency through climate change, forest fires are a very real danger. The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) within the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment, Territory Management and Energy has been studying climate change and working on new policies in the area whilst the emergency services train in combatting such fires, practising safe evacuation procedures and operating a reliable warning system.

A useful site is the Safe Communities Portugal website with advice, information and contact details regarding forest fires in Portugal.

Portugal and its autonomous region's proximity to the Mid Atlantic ridge, earthquakes are something which has occurred both in the past and continue to occur today. The destructive Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 measured an estimated 8.5-9 on the Richter scale and claimed the lives of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people (the figures aren’t fully known). Now, earthquakes are around 5 times a year and rarely peak above 4.9 on the Richter scale.

Portugal often experiences fast and heavy rain and that coupled with wind and storms can lead to flooding. The National Municipalities Association (ANMP) and Portugal’s National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) are responsible for studying the most prone areas (the Algarve, Alentejo and Lisbon) and along with maintenance on the drainage systems of the regions implementing preventative measures to lessen the impact of the floods.

Read more about this country

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