Bulgarian Climate

Considering its relatively small area, Bulgaria has variable and complex climate. The country occupies the southernmost part of the continental climatic zone, with small areas in the south falling within the Mediterranean climatic zone. The continental zone is predominant, because continental air masses flow easily into the unobstructed Danubian Plain. The continental influence, stronger during the winter, produces abundant snowfall; the Mediterranean influence increases during the second half of summer and produces hot and dry weather. Bulgaria is subdivided into five climatic zones: continental zone (Danubian Plain, Pre-Balkan and the higher valleys of the Transitional geomorphological region); transitional zone (Upper Thracian Plain, most of the Struma and Mesta valleys, the lower Sub-Balkan valleys); continental-Mediterranean zone (the southernmost areas of the Struma and Mesta valleys, the eastern Rhodope Mountains, Sakar and Strandzha); Black Sea zone along the coastline with an average length of 30–40 km inland; and alpine zone in the mountains above 1000 m altitude (central Balkan Mountains, Rila, Pirin, Vitosha, western Rhodope Mountains, etc.).
Despite the large distance, the most important climate-forming factor is the Atlantic Ocean through the atmospheric circulation of the Icelandic cyclone and the Azores anticyclone, which bring cool and rainy weather in summer and relatively mild weather with abundant snowfall in winter. The influence of the Mediterranean Sea is strongest in the southern parts of Bulgaria, mainly through the Mediterranean cyclones. Due to its small area, the influence of the Black Sea only affects a 30–40 km long strip along the coastline, mainly in summer, when the daily breeze circulation is most pronounced.
The mean annual temperature in Bulgaria is 10.6 °C and varies from –2.9 °C at the nation’s highest peak Musala to 13.9 °C at the town of Sandanski in the southern Struma valley. The average temperature in the Danubian Plain is 11.4 °C, in the Upper Thracian Plain — 13.9 °C, in the lower mountains — 8.1 °C and in the higher mountains — 2.4 °C. The highest absolute temperature was measured at the town of Sadovo in 1916 — 45.2 °C; the lowest absolute temperature was measured at the town of Tran in 1947 — –38.3 °C. The highest temperature in the lowlands and the hilly regions is in June, while in the higher mountains the warmest month is August. The lowest temperature is measured in January and February, respectively.
The average precipitation in Bulgaria is about 670 mm. It is uneven in terms of seasons and territory. In northern Bulgaria the highest precipitation is in May–June, while in southern Bulgaria it is in winter. The average amount of precipitation also varies in term of altitude — from 450–850 mm in the plains to 850–1200 mm. The lowest mean precipitation is in the eastern part of Dobrudzha and the Burgas Plain (450 mm) and in the area between Plovdiv and Pazardzhik (500 mm); the highest rainfall falls in the mountains — the Petrohan Pass in the western Balkan Mountains and Zlatograd in the Rhodope Mountains.

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