A rare summer storm arrives in Cres
Croatia is divided into two predominant climate regions--Continental and Mediterranean--although there are some variations within those climate zones. As everywhere, Croatia's climate is determined by its geography which is a mixture of mountains, plains, forests and a long littoral.
Croatia's coast and islands from Istria and Kvarner in the north through Dalmatia are governed by a Mediterranean climate although it's usually several degrees cooler in the northern Adriatic than in the south. In summer, the mean temperature is between 24°C and 26°C along the coast. Yet the Istrian interior is somewhat cooler at 22°C. In winter, the coast has a mean temperature of 2°C in the north and 9°C in the south.
As a rule, summer is the driest season along the coast and winter the rainiest with twice the amount of precipitation as the summer. Croatia's islands can be dry indeed (sometimes way too dry leading to devastating fires). Generally, the islands further from the mainland are the driest. For example, Vis Island averages only 557mm of rainfall per year while Brac Island averages 952mm. Dubrovnik is one of the rainiest parts of the coast from October through December. Snow is a rare occurrence anywhere along the coast.
The coastal climate is defined by its winds. The most frequent wind in Dalmatia is the southeasterly Jugo which blows toward the mainland in autumn and winter bringing warmer and moister air with it. The Bura however, is a cold, dry wind which blows from the mainland in sudden and powerful gusts bringing dry air and cooler temperatures. The westerly Maestral is a pleasant summer wind that blows in from the sea, reaching its peak force in early afternoon. It refreshes the air and chases away any mugginess.
The Croatian interior which includes Zagreb and Slavonia is separated from the coast by the Dinaric mountains and has a completely different climate. Winters get cold. The mean temperature in January ranges from 0°C to -2°C while in July you'll get a mean of about 22°C although suffocating heat waves have become more frequent.
The mountains of Croatia such as the Velebit range and Medvednica (near Zagreb) are cooler and get more precipitation. In winter the mean temperature ranges from -2°C to -4°C and above 1500m it's even a few degrees colder. Snow is common in the higher elevations, giving Croatia a ski season. In summer the mountains are a temperate 10°C to 18°C which make them a pleasant escape from a baking coast.
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