Flowers Blossom in the Desert

The hardy desert wildflower seeds can lie, desiccated and dreaming in the desert soil for decades, waiting for the steady winter rains they need to flourish in the spring. They are testament to the gaudy persistency of life, especially flowering plants, which emerged approximately 140 million years ago. As leaves evolved into petals loaded with […]

Superstition Mountains and the Legend of the Lost Dutchman

The jagged Superstition Mountains just outside of Phoenix show another face of the Sonoran Desert, rife with alluring legends of violent death and lost gold mines. That includes one of the most famous tales of the Sonoran Desert, the lost gold mine of the mysterious, semi-mythological Jacob Waltz, better known as the “Lost Dutchman.” The […]

Casa Malpais: Death by Religious Warfare?

One of the most intriguing clues to the mystery of the regional collapse of ancient civilizations throughout the Southwest lies on a high plateau grassland that lies at the edge of both the Sonoran and Great Basin deserts—the stone ruins of Casa Malpais, a 50-room pueblo on a lava flow riddled with caves. Casa Malpais […]

More Clues in the Verde Valley

More clues to the mystery have been unearthed 100 miles (160.9 km) northwest in the Verde Valley, which harbors some well-preserved ruins constructed by the cliff-house–dwelling Sinagua, who also abandoned an ancient and adaptable Sonoran Desert civilization in the 1400s, including well-constructed stone pueblos at Tuzigoot, Montezuma Castle, and Montezuma Well. The mysterious Sinagua settlement […]

A Long Buildup and a Fast Collapse

The earliest settlers in the Tonto Basin were most likely migrants from the Hohokam core areas in what are now Phoenix and Tucson, where tens of thousands of people tended hundreds of miles of irrigation canals. But they soon evolved their own vibrant culture. They made beautiful pots, painted with elegant, curved designs suggestive of […]

A Baffling Missing Persons Case

The Sonoran Desert holds the clues to one of history's great missing persons cases, the collapse of distinct but connected 1,000-year-old civilizations throughout the Southwest sometime in the 1400s, just before the arrival of the first Spanish explorers. Human beings have occupied the Sonoran Desert for at least 10,000 years and for perhaps as long […]

Organ Pipe National Monument Preserves Desert

On the edge of the Tohono O'odham Reservation stands Organ Pipe National Monument, one of the best places to glimpse the rich ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert, with its tenacious, understated extravagance and the long sweep to the horizon. The landscape was forged in a series of cataclysms starting 110 million years ago caused by […]


The sky islands scattered throughout the Sonoran Desert help account for its surprising ecological diversity. One such “island” mountain rising from the desert plains is Mount Graham, which rises from the mesquite-studded Sonoran Desert to a height of more than 0,000 feet ( ,0 m). This means the peak has conditions more akin to Canada […]

Sky Islands Rise from Desert Seas

The basin and range geography that created all the deserts of North America, in the Sonoran created a chain of 10,000-foot-tall (3,048 m) mountains surrounded by low desert basins that help account for the extraordinary ecological diversity of the Sonoran Desert. One of the most striking mountains is the 7,730-foot-tall (2,356.10 m) Baboquivari in southern […]

Saguaros Nourish Civilizations

Saguaros also sustained desert-dwelling Indians. The Pima and Papago, now called the Tohono O'odham, relied heavily on the sweet, nutritious fruit of the saguaro. They dry-farmed corn, squash, and beans, channeling both winter and summer rains onto farmed terraces and stream meanders. Fortunately, the saguaro fruit offered a nutritional bounty perfectly timed between their twin […]

Desert kit foxes are shy, nocturnal creatures that can climb trees, scale boulders, hide in burrows, and go for long periods without a drink of water, relying entirely on moisture in the bodies of the mice, kangaroo rats, and insects they consume. (Peter Aleshire)

Sonoran Desert Arizona and Northern Mexico

T he towering, bristling, water-hoarding saguaro cactus cluster thickly across the desert corrugations of Saguaro National Monument in Arizona, brooding over a mystery. The defining plant of the Sonoran Desert, the largest of the saguaro are 200 years old, 50 feet high (15.24 m), and weigh eight tons. They dominate the park that occupies two […]

The world’s deserts

Origin of the Landform: Deserts

T he appearance and evolution of Earth's deserts offer deep insights into geology, history, evolution, climate, and the whole rich history of the planet. Although deserts now cover great swaths of Earth's surface along the broad, hot midsection of the planet, most modern deserts are new landscapes—the transformation of grasslands and woodlands into an austere […]


Barely 100 kilometers (62 mi.) from the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada, lies the lowest point in the western hemisphere in Death Valley, in this northern arm of the Mojave Desert, the valley floor descends to 86 meters (282 ft.) below sea level. The valley may not […]

Although arid conditions were widespread in the Paleozoic “Age of Deserts,”most modern deserts were formed relatively late in the Cenozoic period.


The answer to the question “Why do deserts form?” seems obvious—sustained lack of rainfal—but he global and local climatic conditions that lead to such aridity are complex and an understanding of them helps explain such apparent anomalies as coastal deserts. Deserts are among some of the most alien, inhospitable landscapes on the planet. Some of […]


The term “desert” was once confined to hot, arid regions of the tropics and subtropics. However, the central place given to the absence or sparsity of vegetation in many definitions of the term has led to the development of the concept of the “cold desert”—a terrain in which low temperatures and physiological drought drastically inhibit […]


Arid, rocky region with their lack of soil and plant cover are ideal for fossilhunting. Remains of any dinosaurs, prehishistoric mammals, and other long gone creatures are regularly discovered in modern deserts such as the Gobi the patagonian Desert, and the Kalahari. A major expedition of the 1920s visited the rocks there are far too […]


In the Western imagination the word “desert” most often evokes a landscape of endless gigantic sand dunes, dazzling white under a cloudless hot-blue sky and a blazing sun. This landscape of the imagination is likely to be empty—deserted—except, perhaps, for a caravan of nomads and camels that inches slowly across the horizon, or a lone […]

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, snapped by Voyager 1 in 1979, when the spacecraft was 9.2 million kms/5.7 million miles from the planet.

Gas giants and icy moons

Despite their frigidity, the four planets past Mars (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune,and Uranus) manage to produce some interesting weather. One of their moons even has an atmosphere surprisingly similar to Earth's. All four planets have been dubbed gas giants, because the bulk of their interiors are made up of gases rather than solids (though Neptune and […]

Inside the inner planets

The first rule of planetary weather is an obvious one – planets are generally cooler the farther they are from the Sun. But temperature also depends strongly on the thickness of each planet's atmosphere. When that insulating blanket is thinner than ours, temperatures can vary greatly between daylight and darkness. Mercury offers the most vivid […]

Weather: Antarctica/Arctic

The unrelenting cold of the glacial continent of Antarctica boggles the mind. Much of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean melts or breaks up each summer. By contrast, all but roughly two percent of the Antarctic landmass is sealed year-round beneath a mass of ice up to 4.8km/3 miles deep. There's so much ice that, were it […]

Weather: South Pacific, Papeete, Suva

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein picked the right venue for a lush, warm musical when they composed South Pacific. This enormous expanse of island-dotted ocean simply screams “tropics” – or perhaps it gently whispers that refrain. The only real weather worry in these parts are tropical cyclones (hurricanes). In general, they're most likely to threaten […]

Weather: New Zealand

Auckland | Christchurch | Wellington The weather across the two islands of New Zealand isn't especially violent or dramatic, but it does keep you guessing. The band of westerly winds across the South Island is known as the Roaring Forties, and with good reason. Across the planet, there's no other land at this latitude except […]

Weather: Australia

Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney You can't look at a map of Australian rainfall and temperature without being struck by the effect of the Great Dividing Range. This low-slung set of peaks shelters the population belt of Australia's southeast coast from the dry, blastfurnace heat found through the vast interior. The Outback's […]

Weather: Australasia/South Pacific

Water – or the lack of it – has everything to do with the weather across this vast realm where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet. The island continent of Australia and its much smaller neighbours are surrounded by mammoth stretches of sea. If you took a globe and shifted it so New Zealand were […]

Weather: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos

Although all of Vietnam sits within the tropics, there are dramatic weather variations between the north and south ends of this ribbon-like nation. Warmth is more or less guaranteed year-round across the southernmost delta surrounding Ho Chi Minh city, while northern Laos and Vietnam – adjacent to southeast China – can get surprisingly chilly in […]

Weather: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Dust may be the most vivid weather feature across most of Uzbekistan and its southern neighbour, Turkmenistan. Each spring, great clouds of dust whipped up from the Kara Kum desert cascade across the land. They often follow in the wake of blustery thunderstorms that drop little if any rain. The dustiest regions are in central […]

Weather: Thailand, Myanmar

Cradled by mountains to its east and west, Thailand manages to avoid the worst extremes a monsoon climate can dish out. Although it's decidedly moist here, sunshine is widespread, especially in winter, which is almost rain-free across the country. Even during summer, a given day has roughly even odds of staying dry, outside of the […]

Weather: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Almost half of Tajikistan sits more than 3000m/9900ft above sea level. What's distinctive about the desolate highlands of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is how dry they are. Pinched off from the Indian monsoon by the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, these peaks get most of their winter snow as weak systems arrive from the west. Across the […]

Weather: Russia (including European Russia), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

Although its reputation precedes it, Russia's climate is extreme only after a particular fashion. There's no sugar-coating the fact that Russian winters are extremely cold. Yet much of the country enjoys warm mid-summer days that average above 20°C/68°F, and there are even a few bona fide hot spells. Thunderstorms are seldom intense outside of the […]

How winter came to Russia’s aid

Like a judo expert manipulating another's strength to his advantage, Russia learned through years of experience how to use the power of wintertime in its own defence. Would-be conquerors who extended their stay past the autumn equinox did so at their own risk, as Napoleon discovered in 1812. That September, some 400,000 of his troops […]

Weather: Philippines

Even the warm South China and Philippines Sea aren't quite enough to keep this chain of tropical islands from the effects of the Asian monsoon. While Mindanao and the southern Philippines stay warm to hot year round, Luzon (including Manila) experiences a few degrees of cooling, especially in the evening, from November to March. Winter […]

Weather: Nepal, Bhutan

The serene, snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas do more than loom over the Indian plains. During the summer, they stand firm against the southwest monsoon winds, forcing them to dump prodigious amounts of water across Nepal. The main climate differences through this zone hinge on elevation and topography, as you might expect. Particularly toward the […]

Weather: Maldives

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the Maldives' climate isn't local but global. The slow worldwide rise in sea level threatens to inundate much of this island nation within the next century. There's little high ground here: the tallest atolls barely top 2m/6ft. Since the Maldives straddle the equator, wet seasons vary, but they tend […]

Weather: Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore

Seasonality is barely a concern when planning travel to this moist equatorial country. Temperatures in Malaysia hardly deviate through the year, with highs near sea level usually in the range of 30–32°C/86–90°F, and lows around 22–25°C/72–77°F. The range drops about 6°C/11°F for every 1000m/3300ft in elevation. Rainfall is well distributed through the year, with a […]

Weather: Kazakhstan

This is the behemoth of Central Asian countries, a sprawling land that spans 40° in longitude. That's one-tenth of the way around the globe, fully twice the breadth of India. But Kazakhstan features less weather variety than you might expect across such a vast area, mainly as a result of its landlocked location. Only the […]

Weather: Japan

The hard-core seasonality of Chinese climate gets moderated on its way to the Japanese archipelago. This chain of over 4000 islands runs from the tropics to the northern mid-latitudes, so there is plenty of north-to-south contrast. However, the broad strokes are similar to China's: wintertime cold and sweaty summer heat are interspersed with distinctly rainy […]

Weather: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

What Indonesia lacks in longitude, it makes up for in its vast east–west spread, extending over 4800km/3000 miles (and even further if you include Papua New Guinea). The volcanic peaks of Indonesia ensure that the main temperature differences are tied to elevation. As in Malaysia, anticipate a drop of roughly 6°C/11°F for every 1000m/3300ft, with […]

Weather: India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan

As troublesome as it may be, the monsoon is a member of the family here. India simply wouldn't be the same without it. It's a dramatic sight, to be sure: after days of torrid heat and humidity, with only an occasional storm at best, the skies suddenly darken, the southwest winds kick in, and before […]

Weather: Guam

Like its neighbours in the northwest Pacific, US territory Guam keeps its eyes to the east during the summer and autumn. Few other parts of the world are at as much risk from typhoons. Many buildings are constructed like concrete bunkers to ensure that they last more than a few years. If you focus your […]

Weather: China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Tibet

Weather may be one reason why the philosophy of yin and yang developed in China. This ancient culture evolved in a climate rife with dualism. For starters, there's the monsoon. Less publicized than India's, this annual cycle of rain and drought is a fundamental part of life across the densely populated eastern half of the […]

Weather: Asia

To say that Asia is the world's largest, most populous continent doesn't quite do the place justice. The sheer scope of this land mass is hard to comprehend. Asia is almost twice the size of North America. You could cram five Australias – or 140 Italys – within its ample borders. On one side of […]

Weather: Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia

Much like the Sahel, but without the blazing temperatures, Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia feel the pulse of the ITCZ each year. Its southward push brings widespread showers, thunderstorms and clouds from December into March. The rains are most frequent (almost daily) and the clouds most persistent across Zambia, where the ITCZ is enhanced by intrusions […]

Weather: Tunisia

This tiny but diverse nation echoes the landscape and climate of Algeria in miniature: a mountain barrier separates a scenic coast from a parched interior. The east-facing shore is more vulnerable than Morocco's to cool, rainy winter storms settling down from Europe and heat from the Sahara moving north. Apart from the occasional blast-furnace days […]

Weather: Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda

Like Kenya to its north, Tanzania is blessed with delightful temperatures – largely as a result of altitude – but cursed by erratic rainfall that plays havoc with food supplies. The average rainfall does tend to run slightly higher than Kenya's; in both countries, summer drought can result when an El Nino is brewing. Most […]

Weather: South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland

Hail, tornadoes, snowstorms: at first glance the climate of South Africa seems to resemble that of the US Midwest. In reality, the extremes here are more localized and not terribly common. Sunshine and moderate warmth are actually the most prevalent features of South African climate. Jutting into the Atlantic, the southwest corner of the Western […]

Weather: Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone

This is the end-point for the east-to-west march of weather systems across the Sahel. Senegal, as well as The Gambia (which it surrounds) is where easterly waves enter the Atlantic after dousing the region with intense rain and thunder. Outside of the June-to-October visit of the ITCZ and its easterly waves, Senegal is virtually rainless. […]

Weather: Nigeria

Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria has a climate regime similar to that of the Guinea-coast nations to its west, as the ITCZ brings wet weather northward from March to May and southward from October to December. Only the extreme north is semi-arid in classic Sahel style, while parts of the lower Niger delta are drenched […]

Weather: Namibia, Angola

If it's dry land you crave, try Namibia. Featuring not one, but two types, of desert, temperatures here are still remarkably comfortable. Most of the nation is a high, sunny plateau, which keeps summer readings somewhat in check. Winter mornings are crisp, but the afternoons typically warm to well above 16°C/60°F. A stray winter shower […]

Weather: Morocco, Algeria

A Spaniard need only cross the Strait of Gibraltar to arrive in Morocco, so it naturally follows that the north coast of this mountainous nation shares a similar Mediterranean climate, with bright, warm summer days and a cool winter laced with rainy spells every two or three days. The story's much the same inland to […]

Weather: Mali, Burkina, Chad, Mauritania ,Niger

As sprawling as it is – Mali is nearly twice the size of Texas – this semi-arid country and its neighbours share a common climatic language. The yearly arrival and departure of the ITCZ and its rain is what divides the southern part of Mali from the harsher desert regime to its north. The same […]

Weather: Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles

The world's fourth largest island is a virtual rainmaking machine. Madagascar slopes upward to the east, culminating in the dramatic, forested cliffs that run the length of the island from north to south. The southeast trade winds are forced up this barrier, and the result is an average of 2000–3000mm/79–118in of rain along Madagascar's east […]

Weather: Kenya, Uganda

Generalizing about Kenyan weather is a dangerous practice. Given the highlands of the west, the semi-arid lowlands, the moist coast and the volcanic peaks of Kirinyaga and – just across the border – Kilimanjaro, distinct climate zones abound. Even climatology is of limited use, since a hallmark of Kenyan rainfall is its year-to-year variability. Much […]

Weather: Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo

Ghana's climate is the most distinctive among the small nations clustered along the Guinea coast of West Africa. The land is distinctive, too: huge tracts of virgin rainforest have disappeared, with more savanna than you'd expect so far south. Yet even without the hand of humanity, the ecosystem of Ghana, along with nearby Togo and […]

Weather: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia

The horn of Africa has seen more than its share of agony, including decades of civil war and devastating drought. Visitors to Ethiopia may be surprised, then, at how agreeable its climate can be. The nation's western highlands escape both the sizzling heat of the northeast's Danakil Desert and the nonstop mugginess of the southeastern […]

Weather: Egypt, Libya, Sudan

Adaptation is the key to life in the Nile Valley, where agriculture has been sustained for millennia. Certainly, without irrigation, crops would not grow so well in the land around Cairo, where the annual rainfall average barely exceeds 20mm/0.8in. South of Egypt's north coast and populous northeast corner, the climate is relatively uniform. From early […]

Weather: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic

At the heart of equatorial Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) has one of the more dependable climatic regimes of the continent. The ITCZ pulls wet, thundery weather to the north from March to November and to the south from December to February. In between, the central Congo basin, including Mbandaka (perched directly […]

Weather: Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Principe, Sao Tome

This small, spectacular country lies at the crossroads of several African weather regimes. Few places can out-drench Cameroon's coastal delta, where moist southwesterlies are forced upward by Cameroon Mountain and neighbouring peaks to produce one of the world's wettest climates. Debundscha's annual average is over 1000mm/390in, and the coast is soaked from March to November. […]

Weather: Botswana

For a country that's half desert, Botswana has a surprisingly agreeable climate. Sunshine is ample year round, from the driest reaches of the south to the wildlife-studded swamps of the Okavango Delta. The stretch from the Delta to Francistown is the wettest part of the country, but even during the wet season (October–March) thunderstorms arrive […]

Weather: Africa

More than any other continent, Africa is swept by the back-and-forth migration of meteorology's equator. Africans watch the globe-straddling intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) as intently as a day trader watches stocks. As the ITCZ sloshes north and south over its annual cycle, it brings much of Africa its only period of annual rainfall. The dry-season/wet-season […]

Weather: Yemen

Don't expect a rainforest here, but the climate of Yemen does have its moist side. Every summer, a powerful low-level jet stream arcs from Somalia toward India. As the strong flow approaches Yemen's soaring western highlands, it can trigger substantial rains and thunderstorms. The high terrain picks up other moisture through the rest of the […]

Weather: Syria

Syria epitomizes Middle Eastern climate, with a Mediterranean wet-winter regime on the coast and a desert that spans most of the country east of a narrow strip of coastal mountains. Damascus is part of the Fertile Crescent, a transition zone near the Lebanon border that gets just enough moisture to keep the desert at arm's […]

Weather: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates

With the world's largest expanse of sand at its heart, Saudi Arabia lives up to its reputation for dust and heat – at least between May and October – although the summer mode may arrive and depart a little ahead or behind schedule. The Arabian peninsula slopes eastward from a substantial rise near the west coast. […]

Weather: Oman

Wrapped around the eastern end of the Arabian peninsula, Oman is influenced by both the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. The nation's most populated area, along the Gulf of Oman coast, offers truly world-class sultriness. From May through September, the coastal strip is more hot and humid than Miami ever gets. Nights regularly hang above […]

Weather: Lebanon

Thanks in large part to its formidable mountains – some of which rise to 2500m/8200ft – Lebanon is one of the most well-watered spots in the Middle East. The mountains get enough snow for skiing in winter and can offer temperatures as low as the freezing point in summer. Even the coastal hills get 5 […]

Weather: Jordan

Despite its location less than 160km/100 miles to the east of the Mediterranean, Jordan is a dry land. Only the western hills get an appreciable amount of moisture – as much as 800mm/32in in a few spots – though blustery showers and storms skim the eastern deserts a few times each winter. As in neighbouring […]

Weather: Israel

For its size, Israel boasts unusually varied weather. Like its neighbours to the north, it has a Mediterranean coastal zone that gets regular winter rains. Annual amounts trend downward as you move south from the Haifa area (which gets around 630mm/25in, with a couple of soggy days every winter week) toward the Egyptian border (which […]

Weather: Iran

Ringed by high ridges, Iran has a mountain-and-plateau climate that belies its location next to two major bodies of water. The cold Asian high dominates in winter, but as it waxes and wanes, temperatures across parts of the interior may shoot above 16°C/60°F, or drop below –18°C/0°F. Mediterranean depressions arrive about once a week on […]

Weather: Middle East

A crossroads of culture and faith for millennia, the Middle East is also a place where giant weather regimes rub shoulders. Cold high pressure centred in Siberia pushes its way into the region each winter, which can be a surprisingly chilly season in the heart of the Middle East. Some of Iran's mountains remain snow-capped […]

Weather: European holiday islands

Most of what you need to know about the weather on the islands between Europe and Africa is summed up in the name of the sea that holds them. The Mediterranean's world-famous climate plays out on all of its islands through variations on a familiar theme: warm-to-hot summers that are bone-dry, and mild winters with […]

Weather: Western Balkans and vicinity

The western Balkans are a laboratory for weather extremes. Conditions can vary in striking fashion across small distances from coast to nearby peak, even from valley to valley. The Dinaric ridge runs parallel to the Adriatic Sea across western Serbia and north along the border between Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Mediterranean lows slam moisture against the […]

Weather: United Kingdom

You're never far from the ocean when you're in the United Kingdom. That fact tells you a lot – though hardly everything – about British weather. The climate here feels undeniably moist, yet the rain is by no means constant. Most of England gets measurable moisture not quite every other day, often amounting to little more […]

Weather: Ukraine

Like southern Canada, the Ukraine experiences summers warm enough to allow grains to thrive despite the high latitude. Even in Kiev, toward Ukraine's northern border, high temperatures average 22°C/72°F, or better, for more than three months of the year. Summer storms usually drop enough rain to keep crops healthy (although drought is always a concern), […]

Weather: Turkey

You can find bitter cold, scorching heat, damp gloom and brilliant sunshine within the borders of Turkey's uncommonly varied climate. The rugged west and south coasts are firmly Mediterranean. Here, the rains virtually cease from June through September but can be heavy in the cool winter. Along the coastal arc from Izmir through Antalya to […]

Weather: Switzerland

Geography has everything to do with the weather in this very mountainous country, especially across the Alps that dominate the country's southern half. The north slopes of the Alps are prone to the same cold waves that put Germany on ice. Meanwhile, south slopes are exposed to Mediterranean flow that's often balmy but laden with […]

Weather: Sweden

Although Sweden extends across nearly as much latitude as Norway, its north–south sweep is on the east side of Scandinavia's mountain corridor rather than the west side. That makes all the difference. With the mountains largely closing the door to Atlantic flow – though it's left ajar in places – Sweden runs distinctly colder and […]

Weather: Spain

It may be joined at its shoulder to Europe, but meteorologically speaking, Spain has little to do with the rest of the continent. The Iberian Peninsula goes its own way weatherwise, generating its own pools of cold air in winter and dry-roasting on its own in summer. Even if it were as pancake-flat as The […]

Weather: Slovakia

Slovakia's climate is split by the mountain ranges at its heart. The Danube lowland across the southwest is the nation's warm spot. Enough moisture trickles up from the Mediterranean so that many days in July and August feel a touch humid across the plains and on the Danube (where Bratislava and Vienna share a similar climate). […]

Weather: Romania, Moldova

Much like Bulgaria to its south, Romania has a four-season climate modulated by extensive highlands. Except for the highest parts of the Carpathians, most of the country will reach 26°C/79°F on a typical mid-summer day. Humidity is highest along the broad Danube valley. The warm season is the wetter time across the heart of Romania, but […]

Weather: Portugal

Flanking the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal meets and greets Atlantic storm systems throughout the winter months, intercepting much of the rain before it can reach the plain or anywhere else in Spain. The mountains in the northern half of Portugal accentuate this effect. Some northern stations get as much winter rain as […]

Weather: Poland

As spacious as it is, Poland doesn't have much in the way of dramatic climate variations from place to place. What varies most is the weather itself, from day to day and season to season. The country isn't quite as mercurial as Russia when it comes to temperatures, but Polish weather can surprise a visitor […]

Weather: Norway

The Norway of picture books isn't so much a region as a ribbon, wrapping from southwest to northeast around more than 1600km/1000 miles of coastline. Off the west coast lies some of the world's warmest high-latitude water. This part of the Atlantic basin never freezes, even during weeks of winter darkness. The ocean currents that […]

Weather: The Netherlands

It's ironic that two of The Netherlands' most famous icons – its dikes and windmills – call to mind the image of a windy, waterlogged nation. True, it rains with regularity here, but no spot averages more than 1000mm/39in a year. That's below the norm in Wales and much less than on the west coasts […]

Weather: Lithuania, Belarus

Most of Lithuania is only a few hours' drive from the Baltic coast, but the inner parts of this country – including the touristed areas of Vilnius and Trakai – experience more of a dramatic change from summer to winter than their closeness to the sea might suggest. Winters are cold nationwide, though distinctly less […]

Weather: Latvia, Estonia

Scandinavians will feel at home with the climate of Latvia and its northern neighbour, Estonia. Both countries adjoin the Baltic Sea, with a west coast wrapping around the Gulf of Riga. Proximity to water gives these countries a cool, humid regime year round. Winter temperatures are relatively mild for the latitude – no colder, on […]

Weather: Italy

San Marino | Vatican City The cradle of the Renaissance was also the location where weather observing as we know it evolved, thanks to the efforts of Torricelli, Galileo and other Italian scientists and inventors. There is plenty to observe weatherwise across this varied country. Jutting into the sea, Italy is a sitting duck for […]

Weather: Ireland

Ireland is less likely than the UK to surprise visitors with unexpected weather. Positioned further into the Atlantic, the Emerald Isle has a more uniform temperature regime than the UK, and over 50 percent more rain as a whole. Cold snaps tend to lose their punch by the time they make it across the sea […]

Weather: Iceland

It may not quite live up to its name, but Iceland is indeed a chilly place. Reykjavik is the world's northernmost capital (aside from Nuuk, Greenland), and it may also be the one with the coldest summers: in July, the average highs stay below 14°C/57°F. Warm ocean currents and the most favoured track of North Atlantic […]

Weather: Hungary

The open fields of the Great Hungarian Plain cultivate one of Europe's most vivid four-season climates: visitors from the American Midwest will feel at home. Summers are bathed in sunshine, with frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms rolling across the prairie. Especially in the Danube valley, there's often enough moisture in the air for it to feel […]

Weather: Greenland

Most of this semi-independent Danish province is slathered by the Northern Hemisphere's largest sheet of ice, rising more than 3300m/10,000ft high at its centre. By and large, tourists wisely stick to Greenland's coasts, where summers are chilly but bright. During the peak June-to-August travel season, average highs remain above 6°C/40°F along the entire west coast, […]

Weather: Greece

It's hard to summarize the climate in a land with 2000 islands, high mountain peaks, and exposure to air masses that range from sub-tropical to polar. Nearly all of Greece is ruled by a Mediterranean regime, which means that precipitation is focused in the cool season. Summers are virtually rain-free: the best chance for a […]

Weather: Germany

Although Germany covers a fair amount of north–south distance – from the Alps to the northern seas – the weather doesn't vary a tremendous amount across this reach. There's no more than about 5°C/8°F difference in the average temperatures of Germany's major cities. As is the case elsewhere in northwest Europe, it rains or snows […]

Weather: France

Although it's not an island like its neighbour across the English Channel, France is bordered on three sides by water. The Atlantic and Mediterranean help to moderate the temperature swings that otherwise might occur at France's latitude. The ragged northwest coast of Brittany and Normandy has a climate not too dissimilar to much of Great […]

How does weather shape France’s wines?

More and more wine is being grown in places with hot Mediterranean-style climates, Australia and California among them. But France's unique blend of landscape and weather – its terroir – has nurtured the grape for centuries. Experts have found that wine grows best in regions with cool winters that are a little above freezing and […]

Weather: Finland

Lake-strewn Finland has a maritime feel, although the huge air masses that build over continental Russia are never too distant. The ebb and flow between these influences is the main driver of Finnish climate. The Atlantic and the high latitude keep things relatively cool in summer, with few big temperature differences across the country. It […]

Weather: Denmark

Except for its border between Jutland and Germany, Denmark is essentially an island nation with a climate to match. As in The Netherlands and southern Sweden, you can expect some form of light precipitation almost every other day year-round, although the rain or snow is seldom very heavy. Atlantic gales pound the west coast of Jutland […]

Weather: Czech Republic

The mountains that encircle much of the Czech Republic help to shield it from the coldest of the air that flows west from Russia. Nonetheless, the country tends to remain on the chilly side during the winter throughout the lowlands, and colder still in the mountains. A dusting of snow may fall every 2 or […]

Weather: Bulgaria

Two mountain ranges and two broad valleys make up the setting for Bulgaria's four-season climate. The Balkans run east–west through the nation's heart, and they shield the southern lowlands somewhat from outbreaks of winter cold. Along the southern border, the Rhodope Mountains help prevent the hot, humid air of Greece from sweeping northward. It's still […]

Weather: Belgium, Luxembourg

Belgium is a land of gentle transitions meteorologically as well as culturally. The weather of Flanders is very similar to that of the adjacent Netherlands: cool winters, milder summers (especially as you move inland) and, in all seasons, frequent – through seldom intense – rain. As you move south into Wallonia, the climate becomes a little more […]

Weather: Austria, Liechtenstein

The broad-brush picture of weather in Austria is fairly straightforward; it's the delicate strokes that can throw a visitor. On the large scale, Austria features a Swiss-style mountainous regime to the west and a central European lowland climate to the east. The Tyrol region of western Austria – and Liechtenstein just beyond – is crisscrossed […]

Weather: Europe

By and large, European weather obeys the dictum “moderation in all things”. When compared to other mid-latitude continents, Europe is indeed a favoured child. Tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards may fling themselves at the United States; China may endure intense heat and brutal cold; but most of Europe trundles along with relatively few weather worries. In […]