PODGORICA’S WEIRD WEATHER: FROM SNOW TO TROPICAL HEAT

When you want to find detailed data about the climate in Podgorica, you will get a lot of different information on internet. But as I have been living in Podgorica for a long time, I think that it would be interesting to tell you something about my own experience with the weather in the capital city of Montenegro.

RainbowOfficial data state that the climate in Podgorica is modified Mediterranean with dry, warm summers and cool, mild winters. No wonder, Podgorica’s central position in the Zeta plain, the vicinity of the Adriatic Sea that is only 50 km away and the closeness of the mountains towards the north also create some specific climatic features.

What else is there to say about the weather in Podgorica? Just imagine a place with two hundred sixty days/year without rain (I hate rain, don’t you?) and one hundred twenty rainy days, around half of them along with strong winds. And what is more important, the average temperature is above 25°C during 135 days per year. That sounds good, doesn’t it?

But let me tell you how the Podgorica climate looks like ‘in practice’.

SUMMER

Podgorica gets very hot during the summer, i.e. in July and August; it ranges among the 10 hottest cities in Europe. Of course, there are also extreme circumstances. In 2017 we had the hottest summer since 50 years. Can you imagine that there were 11 consecutive days in the beginning of August when the temperature was higher than 40°C? Fortunately, the relative humidity was rather low, but nevertheless, most people escaped from the city, looking for refreshment on the Adriatic coast and in the mountain resorts. Moreover, we didn’t have any rainfall for more than one hundred days!

On several occasions, the high temperatures were accompanied with a strong wind from the north (called “sjever” – “sj” is proncounced somehow as “sh” in English), which resulted in numerous forest fires – even more than 2000 – in the surroundings. A photo from my apartment on the 6th floor shows how the sun looked like in August: air pollution, due to ash and smoke of the fires, created a thick blanket over the city.

But of course, this was an exceptional occurrence – although I can remember that summers were similar when I moved to Podgorica, in the 1970s. You will understand that there were no air-conditioners in the apartments at that time. So how did I find refreshment? Believe it or not: by taking a shower 5-6 times per day and wrapping a wet bed sheet around my body when I went to sleep!

AUTUMN

Fortunately, the summer heat doesn’t last long and somehow you get used to it – but I can assure you that September and October are wonderful months. The weather is nice and sunny most of the time. Podgorica’s residents love to go out and have a coffee on the open-air terraces that can be found all over the city. The Gorica Forest Park offers many recreation possibilities, including the popular adventure park.

And then, in November, heavy rainfall starts. There are days, when it is raining cats and dogs. Don’t compare these heavy showers with the drizzle rain characteristic for Western Europe: going out with such downpours means getting totally wet in a few seconds! The rainy periods can be quite long and the autumn storms (called “jugo”, as the wind comes from the south) can blow with a strength of more than 100 km/h. Roofs get damaged, streets are flooded and many apartments and houses are damaged by water, as the rain sometimes falls almost horizontally. The usually emerald-green Morača, Ribnica and Zeta rivers get muddy and flood their banks. By the way, I still remember the days when disastrous flooding struck the Skadar Lake area in 2010. In those days, many villages could be reached by boat only and the population was evacuated.

WINTER

Winter is getting closer and it is beautiful to see snowy mountains all around the Zeta plain. In Podgorica the temperatures are mainly moderate in this period, but frost might also occur. The coldest month is January. When the famous ‘sjever’ (northern wind) blows from the snowy mountains, people prefer staying at home, as this strong wind is really icy! Podgorica’s inhabitants know it from experience: the “sjever” can blow 1, 3 or 7 days – fortunately, it very rarely lasts 7 days. And I will never understand why it is not 4 or 5…

There are only a few days with snow during the winter (or none at all), but I remember one exception: in the beginning of February 2012 Montenegro’s capital was brought to a standstill by a 52 cm deep snow layer, which was a 50-year record; the airport was closed, the trains stopped running and life was completely paralyzed. People were ordered to clean up the sidewalks in front of their buildings; the state of emergency was declared and lasted 16 days. But although the snow caused a lot of trouble, it was an amazing experience!

Under normal circumstances, there are also many sunny days in winter, when people get out and sit in the sun or take a walk. I just refer to the last day of 2017 when we made a long walk along the banks of Skadar Lake and had a nice lunch in the sun, on the open-air terrace near the Rijeka Crnojevića bridge.

SPRING

In my opinion, spring is the most beautiful season in and around Podgorica. From February/March, the almond and cornelian cherry trees in gardens and parks start flowering and the city wakes up. This is the best time to make trips in the surroundings, admire the spring flowers and the tender green leaves in the forests. The temperatures in April and May are around 20-25°C.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PODGORICA

Altogether, if you ask me which is the best time to visit Podgorica, I would say: spring time (from April to June) and autumn (September and October). If you can’t stand the heat: avoid July and August – or restrict your visit to one or two days. The winter months are mild and if you are lucky, you can enjoy nice and sunny days, but you have to count on a lot of rainfall in the period from November to February. For detailed information, see the climate graph below.

Finally, I must say that it is odd to live in a city with so much sunshine and so much rain (1650 mm per year) at the same time. It is strange to experience so many extreme weather situations: heat waves, heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, long arid periods causing forest fires, floods and even snow! But I love living in Podgorica with its central position, as other climate zones (Adriatic coast, mountains) are just an hour or so away…

 

 

Leave a Reply