With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands
backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country
lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during
the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic
regions for so small an area. The coastal lowlands have typically
Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental
climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies
markedly from north to south.
The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7° C. Summer
temperatures average 24° C, humidity is high, and the weather
tends to be oppressively uncomfortable. In the southern lowlands,
temperatures average about five degrees higher throughout the
year. The difference is greater than five degrees during the summer
and somewhat less during the winter.
Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation
than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures
in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates
the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly
winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower
than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations,
but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures
in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the
nights are almost always cool.
Average precipitation is heavy, a result of the convergence of
the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental
air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain
rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical
currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also
cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied
by high local winds and torrential downpours.
When the continental air mass is weak, Mediterranean winds drop
their moisture farther inland. When there is a dominant continental
air mass, cold air spills onto the lowland areas, which occurs
most frequently in the winter. Because the season's lower temperatures
damage olive trees and citrus fruits, groves and orchards are
restricted to sheltered places with southern and western exposures,
even in areas with high average winter temperatures.
Lowland rainfall averages from 1,000 millimeters to more than
1,500 millimeters annually, with the higher levels in the north.
Nearly 95 percent of the rain falls in the winter.
Rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Adequate records
are not available, and estimates vary widely, but annual averages
are probably about 1,800 millimeters and are as high as 2,550
millimeters in some northern areas. The seasonal variation is
not quite as great in the coastal area.
The higher inland mountains receive less precipitation then the
intermediate uplands. Terrain differences cause wide local variations,
but the seasonal distribution is the most consistent of any area.
Data as of April 1992