Ukraine: Weather Overview
Ukraine is largely flat plateau but does have mountains and coastline, and as a result, sees some regional climatic variation. Most of the country experiences a continental climate, receiving all four seasons. Hot summers and cold winters are accompanied by regular rainfall: frequent but not excessive in volume. The Crimean and Carpathian Mountains see cooler temperatures year-round while the eastern part of the southern coast on the Sea of Azov enjoys a sub-tropical climate with warmer winters. Rainfall never alters much from the month, falling at moderate levels throughout the year and adding up to quite high annual rainfall. Rainfall increases towards the northwest and in mountainous areas. The Black Sea is an inland sea and Ukraineâs great distance from a true ocean or sea has resulted in its continental climate. The country shares borders with Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Russia.
Areas of plain and plateau which cover most of the country receive incredibly long summers with temperatures around 20°C and upwards from March till September. Peak temperatures are higher towards the southern areas of this region and also towards the east due to the ever-increasing distance from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Lâviv, in the far northwest, sees average highs of 19°C in March and September and a peak of 23°C in July and August. To the east, on the Dnieper River, Kyiv receives an average high around 20°C in the fringe months and a peak of 25°C in July. Further south, Dnepropetrovsk sees average highs of 22°C in June and September and a peak of 27°C in September. This increasing heat towards the south is somewhat negated by the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and also by the cool, dry northeast winds that prevail in the southern half of the country; coastal areas receive temperatures similar to Kyiv and refreshing breezes. Sunshine levels during the long summer are typically high around nine hours per day, though coastal areas are sunnier. High-pressure weather systems originating in Asia travel over Ukraine, extending the period of high temperatures and clear skies.
The absence of cloud cover leads to a high level of insolation and nighttime temperatures are usually considerably lower than the daytime highs, usually 10°C colder. In the northwest, this means a few extra layers are a necessity as 13°C is pretty chilly by most standards, but in the south and northeast average lows around 15°C are refreshing but not cold. Insolation is increased by the comparative aridity of the Ukranian summer. Rainfall is slightly higher in the summer but falls less frequently in short showers, sometimes thunderstorms, and humidity reduces to low levels. This can sometimes result in dust storms in the driest areas of the southeast as the northeast winds whip up loose sediment. Sheltered from north winds by the Crimean Mountains, Crimea in the south is drier in the summer than the winter.
Mountainous regions see much cooler summers with temperatures decreasing with increase in altitude. In the Carpathians, in July the southern slopes see average highs around 20°C and the northern slopes are around 18°C, while at the same time the highest peaks usually experience cold temperatures around 6°C. Southern slopes see much more rain than northern slopes due to the direction of the wind. Similar conditions are to be found in the Crimean Mountains to the southeast as altitude has a greater impact on temperature than location.
Apart from along eastern Crimean coast Ukraine has very cold winters with average highs dropping below freezing and a thick layer of snow. It is predominantly grey; cloud cover thickens and the sun only comes out for one or two hours. The east, which sees the hottest summer, also sees the coldest winters, again because of a more extreme continental climate caused by distance from large bodies of water. Another reason for the northeastâs extended winter is its proximity to Russia and its Siberian plains. In the eastern city of Kharkiv sub-zero temperatures last from December till February. It is coldest in January with an average high of -4°C and an average low of -10°C. To the west, Lâviv is also coldest in January but January is its only month to receive average highs below freezing at -1°C when the average low is -8°C. Down to the south on the Black Sea coast, Odesa clings on to positive figures in the day time with an average high of 1°C but a nighttime average low of -4°C in January.
Precipitation is slightly lower in the winter everywhere but in Crimea. As always it is higher in the mountains than the rest of the country and the heavy snowfall means the proliferation of ski resorts across Ukraineâs mountain ranges. The mountains receive temperatures around -3°C in lower slopes and -10 in the highest peaks. The mountains are often very sunny in the winter in comparison to the grey skies found seen from the lowlands.
Autumn and Spring
The transitional months are unpredictable across the country. Temperatures change more rapidly in the north and east areas as their lower winter lows rush to reach their higher summer highs and vice versa. The spring thaw is very indecisive as temperatures fluctuate and precipitation canât decide between rain or snow, often choosing both. The south of Ukraine clears up much faster receiving sunny skies from April. Up in the mountains, the ski season lasts long into spring. Autumn is generally much warmer than spring, especially at night time, but, and possibly because, it is also much cloudier.