The climate of Russia
, the country with the largest land area in the world, has a predominantly continental climate. European Russia, including southern parts of Siberia and the Far East, has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa, Dfb, Dwa, Dwb). Northern Siberia and the Northern Pole of Cold is subarctic (Köppen Dfd, Dwd), with severely cold winters. The islands in the Arctic Ocean exhibit a polar climate (Köppen EF, ET). A small portion near the Black Sea coast has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), while the region along the Caspian Sea coast and southernmost Siberia display a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). Russia lies in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and shares borders with sixteen countries. The high latitudes, air masses from the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, and proximity to large water bodies, primarily affect the climate.
Russia has a predominantly forested taiga region in the north, with a tundra zone along the northern coast. The rest of the country mainly consists of vast plains, with extensive steppe grasslands in the south. The Caucasus and Altai mountain ranges lie along the southern borders, while the volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula lie in eastern Siberia. The Ural Mountains run north-south to divide Russia between Europe and Asia. The vast coastline of 22,991 miles runs along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans and at least a dozen seas. Thousands of rivers and lakes contribute to the largest surface water reserves on the planet. The Volga is the largest river in Russia and the longest in Europe. The Ob and Yenisey rivers are amongst the longest in the world. Glaciers store a substantial amount of frozen water. Lake Baikal is the world's deepest freshwater lake and along with major lakes like Ladoga and Onega contains a quarter of the world's liquid freshwater. Mount Elbrus is the highest point at 5642 meters in Russia.
Much of Russia has only two seasons, the summer and the winter. Summers range from mild on the northern coast to hot in the interior and south. Frequent thunderstorms and rain are the features of the summer season in the northwestern region. The region near the Caspian and Black Seas has hot and sunny summers. The Sukhoviei are warm winds that blow from Central Asia during the summer. Winters are extremely severe in northern Russia and Siberia, where the average low temperatures frequently drop below an astonishing -40°C (-40°F). Much of the precipitation falls as snow in the winter. The southern parts of Russia have moderate winter, yet the temperatures remain below freezing during January
. The Arctic coast and northern islands remain below freezing during winter days. Cold air brings permafrost in much of Siberia and Yakutia, with mostly gray skies.
The Asian Monsoon reaches the southeastern regions of Russia in the summer. The average annual rainfall in Russia ranges from 381mm (15") to 762mm (30") in most places, but much is in the form of snow. The Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands in the east receive abundant rainfall of 1016mm (40") to 1524mm (60") annually. Much of the tundra region receives substantial snowfall and is under cover of permafrost. The annual sunshine in highly variable in Russia and ranges from 1200 hours in the extreme north to 2400 hours in the warm south. The northern coast near the Arctic Ocean does not even see the sunrise from November
to January. The seawater remains frozen in Tiksi except during the short summer months.
The highest recorded temperature in Russia is 45.4°C (113.7°F) in Kalmykia, set in July
2010. The lowest temperature on record is -71.2°C (-96.2°F), set on January 26, 1926, in Oymyakon.
The best time to visit Russia
The best time to visit Russia
is during the summer. July
are the warmest months in the Asian part of Russia. In the arctic and subarctic regions of Siberia, summer is the only period when temperatures are above freezing. However, the melting of snow causes slush and mud in the early part of the summer. The southern cities have comfortable conditions from June
to August. The southernmost, like Vladivostok, have moderate sunshine even in September
. European Russia is warm from late May
to September, but the northernmost parts have warm conditions only in July and August. The southern regions close to the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus are hot in the summer and have moderate temperatures in May and September.
The worst time to visit Russia
The worst time to visit Russia
is the bitter winter season from December
and the ensuing months of March
when the snow thaws. The Pole of Cold area in Siberia is colder than even the North Pole. Winter temperatures in Ojmjakon and Yakutsk range from -30°C (-22°F) to -51.1°C (-60°F), which can cause fatalities within minutes due to exposure to the cold. The sunshine is almost non-existent. Sea temperatures are below freezing. Mountains receive substantial deposits of snow. The melting of snow blocks roads and the slush and mud make driving a challenge. Long thermal underwear, fur caps, parkas, boots, and Goretex jackets are necessary to withstand the cold.
has natural weather hazards in the form of forest fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and permafrost. The Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands have a history of volcanic eruptions and are prone to seismic disturbances. Mount Kliuchevskoi erupted in 2007 and 2010 and is one of more than 29 active volcanoes in the region. Siberia is prone to spring floods and forest fires in the summer. Central Russia and the Far East are also prone to floods and heatwaves. Freezing rain brought Moscow to a standstill in 2010, with power outages, cancellation of flights, and hazardous roads. Blizzards are frequent in the winter in the northern territories, which bring substantial snowfall and a complete lack of visibility.
Weather in January
is by far the coldest month of the year in Russia
, with extreme temperatures. The mercury column drops to record phenomenal lows, as snow and frost dominate the conditions in the negligible sunshine. Night temperatures reach a nadir of -51.1°C (-60°F) in the Pole of Cold region in the north. Weather in January »
Weather in February
is severely cold in Russia
, with unabated snowfall and biting cold. Moscow, the capital, has freezing days and nights, with average temperatures in the -10°C (14°F) to -3.9°C (25°F) range. The Bering Sea remains frozen in the north, but further south, the Sea of Okhotsk, keeps the average temperatures in Magadan in the range of -17.8°C (-0°F) to -12.8°C (9°F). Layers of snow and frost feathers add an extra dimension of beauty to buildings and structures everywhere. Weather in February »
Weather in March
continues the winter season in Russia
, with freezing nights but slightly warm days. Day temperatures rise above freezing in many places, even though cold air masses stay put in the country. Moscow, in the Great Russian plains, sees daily sunshine for 2 to 3 hours that coincide with an increase in ice-skating crowds. Kaliningrad is milder than most cities on the plains, and the average temperatures of -1.1°C (30°F) to 6.1°C (43°F) often see nights above freezing. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is moderately wet in Russia
, as the landscape changes from white to a mix of brown, white, and green. The melting of the snow creates mud and slush in many places that make it challenging to navigate roads or walk on the paths. Weather in April »
Weather in May
is warm in a few parts but cold in the rest of Russia
. A short spring season begins in the southern region, with the melting of snow and ice. The daily sunshine lasts for 7 to 8 hours, as the average temperatures jump to register between 10°C (50°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) on the southern coasts. Weather in May »
Weather in June
is the beginning of the warm and wet summer season in Russia
. Many regions are free from the clutches of snow and remain in the lap of the warm summer. Grozny, in the western Caucasus, registers average temperatures in the lovely range of 15°C (59°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), with the highest rainfall of the year at 71.1mm (2.8"). Astrahan, on the banks of the Volga, near the northern Caspian Sea coast, receives 11 hours of beautiful sunshine and registers temperatures between 17.2°C (63°F) and 28.9°C (84°F). Weather in June »
Weather in July
is usually the sunniest and warmest month of the year in Russia
. The Asian monsoon reaches the southeast part of the country, which registers yearly highs in July. Many places register between 8 to 11 hours of beautiful sunshine, including those in the northern regions. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is hot and sunny in the interior plains of Russia
but moderate along the coasts and mild in the extreme north. The monsoon continues to register impressive numbers and makes summer, the wettest period of the year. The hot weather is the best time to explore the Caucasus Mountains and enjoy the comforts of alpine resorts. Weather in August »
Weather in September
sees a gradual decline in temperatures and rainfall in Russia
. Much of Russia does not have a fall season except for a few weeks after the end of summer. Murmansk, in the north, registers average temperatures in the mild range of 3.9°C (39°F) to 10°C (50°F). Weather in September »
Weather in October
offers a short window of autumn in southern Russia
as temperatures drop quickly everywhere. Saint Petersburg has average temperatures in the zone of 3.9°C (39°F) to 8.9°C (48°F). Nights tend to be cold, and days are short in sunlight. Precipitation of 76.2mm (3") is at the highest of the year. Weather in October »
Weather in November
is the beginning of the icy winter season in Russia
, with significant snowfall and light rain. Trees show bare limbs as chilly winds blow over the landscape. The Siberian Anticyclone is dominant, and the skies are gray in the vast plains, with hardly 2 to 3 hours of daily sunshine. The eastern Seas receive plenty of snowfall, while Yakutia is cold, with frequent snowfall. Weather in November »
Weather in December
is severely cold in Russia
, with the land in the grip of snow and ice. The average temperatures are below freezing everywhere except for a small region near the Caspian Sea. The sun is absent in the extreme north, on the shores overlooking the Arctic Ocean. The sunlight barely lasts for 2 to 3 hours in the south, and the winter is moderate in the lower Volga region along the Caspian Sea. Weather in December »