Poland: Weather Overview
Poland has a temperate climate that ranges from oceanic to continental with alpine climates on the mountains. Generally, the country receives all four seasons with hot summers and cold winters. Due to its size, topography and the Baltic Sea, there are many regional variations. It lies in Eastern Europe, north of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and has a coastline upon the Baltic Sea.
The country is mainly covered by low-lying rolling plains below 1000 ft, but in the southwest and east, you will find mountain ranges which rise above 4000 feet. The Carpathian range in the east is the highest, rising above 6000 ft in places. It is here that snow cover will last for up to 100 days per year, making it a winter sports centre.
In the low-lying regions, the biggest factor affecting weather conditions is proximity to the Baltic Sea. In areas close to the Baltic Sea there are milder temperatures year-round while inland areas are more extreme with more pronounced seasons. In other words, the climate changes from oceanic on the northern coastline to continental inland.
The east, toward Russia, and the south are generally much colder with extreme winters. The worst conditions come when the strong winds blow from the east, bringing heavy rainfall, gusty winds and much colder temperatures.
Rainfall is generally highest in the summer months. In the winter months, most of the precipitation falls as snow. In the north, this snow will last for about 40 days of the year and can reach up to 60 days in the southern parts. Though rain does fall throughout the year, recorded precipitation is actually quite low, the annual average sitting between 500 and 650mm.
Summers see an average temperature of about 20Â°C to 27Â°C. Winters can get bitterly cold with the north seeing average winter temps of 3Â°C and the south falling to averages of -8Â°C. In parts of southern Poland, away from the moderating influence of the coast, summer temperatures can actually reach in excess of 30Â°C, with the city of Tarnow seeing an average summer high of 30Â°C.
Comparisons between Warsaw and Krakow will probably be the best way to illustrate the weather differences between northern and southern Poland.
Warsaw is Polandâs largest city and also it's capital, lying on the Vistula River, about 370 kilometres from the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian Mountain range. The weather in Warsaw is best described as humid continental. In winter the average low temperature falls to -5Â°C and in summer average highs rise to 31Â°C. Rainfall in Warsaw sits at about 680 mm across the year. From June to August is the wettest time of the year with average monthly precipitation being 60 to 70 mm, compared with 20 to 30mm in December and January.
Krakow lies in the south of Poland, where colder temperatures prevail year-round; it witnesses between 23 and 58 days below freezing across the year. In the summer the city is hit by the western blowing winds which bring rainfall and thunderstorms. Conversely, the winter sees easterly blowing winds which clear the skies and decrease precipitation. January, in the middle of winter, is the coldest months when the average low falls to -7Â°C and the average high is a chilly -1Â°C. Temperatures rise gradually and reach a peak average high of 23Â°C through July and August. Rainfall is considerably higher in Krakow when compared with Warsaw, with July and August each seeing average monthly precipitation of 80 to 100mm.
The best time of the year to visit Poland is during the summer months, as daily hours of sunshine are higher, the days are longer and, of course, itâs warmer. However, if you want a white Christmas, Poland can provide.
The coastline is over 528 kilometres long and is largely smooth and straight, bar a few small lagoons and spits. 28% of the country is covered by forests and over 50% of the land is cultivated for agriculture purposes. Along Poland's western border runs one of the countryâs longest rivers - the Oder River, which like the other main river, the Vistula River, runs across the country and flows into the Baltic Sea.
Poland gained its independence in 1918 in the aftermath of World War One and tragically lost it again in World War Two when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. During this time the country lost 6 million of its citizens. In 1989 the economy began its transformation from communism to free market.