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Climate - Corsica

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go

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Corsica map
The climate of Corsica is Mediterranean on the coast, with mild winters and warm or hot summers, while it gradually becomes colder in inland areas, with increasing altitude. The highest peak is Monte Cinto, 2,706 metres high. At high altitudes, in winter and early spring snowfalls can occur, and sometimes it can snow even in the first half of May.
In the major cities that are located on the coast, like Ajaccio, Calvi, Bastia, Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio, Sartena, the climate is similar, ie Mediterranean. Corte, which sits at 400 metres above sea level, in the interior of the island, is instead a bit colder in winter, while in summer it can be hot during the day, with some more thunderstorms, but also a bit cooler at night.
Here are the average temperatures of Ajaccio, the largest city, located in the west coast.
Ajaccio average temperatures
Ajaccio J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 4 4 5 7 11 14 17 17 15 12 8 5
Max (°C) 14 14 15 17 21 25 28 28 26 22 17 15

The island is pretty windy, not only for the summer breezes, but also because it can be affected by the wind coming from the Rhone Valley, the cold Mistral, blowing in gusts, especially on the west coast and on the Strait of Bonifacio, while the south-western Libeccio, the most frequent wind, is moist and is usually followed by a worsening of weather conditions.
The mountain slopes in the interior enhance rainfall, and make summer thunderstorms more likely; for this reason, some inland areas are very rainy and covered by woods. Along the coast, the annual precipitation does not exceed 700 millimetres and follows a Mediterranean pattern, with the most abundant rains occurring from October to February, and then gradually decreasing in spring, with a minimum in summer.
Here is the average precipitation in Ajaccio.
Average precipitation in Ajaccio
Ajaccio J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 60 55 55 65 40 25 10 20 55 90 95 70 640
Days 8 7 8 8 6 3 1 2 5 8 8 8 72

Winter, from December to February, is mild and rainy on the coast, where the average temperature in January and February is about 8/9 °C. In the mountains, where also ski resorts are found, winter is cold, with quite frequent snowfalls. The wind blows frequently. Sometimes the wind blowing from the Rhone Valley, in addition to the usual wind gusts, when it's particularly cold can bring snowfalls in the plains, especially on the northern part of the island. On plains and coasts, light frosts may occur as a result of cold waves: generally the temperatures do not drop below -2/-3 °C, although the records are lower: -8 °C in Ajaccio, recorded in February 1986.

Spring is initially cool and unstable in March and April, while it becomes gradually warmer and sunnier as the weeks pass, and it becomes more pleasant in May.

Summer, from June to August, is warm and sunny along the coast, while in inland areas it becomes progressively cooler with increasing altitude, where there is also a higher chance of afternoon thunderstorms. These thunderstorms can sometimes reach the coasts. On the coasts the heat is usually acceptable, since it is a bit moist but also tempered by breezes. Sometimes, however, there may be waves of African heat, usually short, with peaks of around 40 °C.

Autumn is initially mild or pleasantly warm, and gradually becomes cooler; it is also quite rainy: the first disturbances occur in September, and become more frequent in October. November is typically a cloudy and rainy month, as normally happens also in north-central Italy.

The amount of sunshine in Corsica is very good in summer, especially along the coasts, when clear skies prevail, while it's not high from November to February, given the frequent passage of Atlantic depressions. However, sunny periods can occur even in winter.

Corsica is the French region where the sea reaches the highest temperature, ie 23 °C in July and September, and 24 °C in August, while it is still cool in June.
Here are the average sea temperatures.
Sea temperature - Ajaccio
Ajaccio J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sea (°C) 14 14 14 14 17 20 23 24 23 20 18 15


When to go

To visit cities, you can choose the period from mid-April to mid-June, and the month of September, to avoid the albeit rare days of annoying heat.
For hiking in the mountains, you can go from June to September.
For swimming, the best months are July and August. In June and September you can go, but sometimes it can be a bit cool in the evening, or it can rain, and in June as mentioned the sea is still cool. For cool evenings and windy days, you can bring a sweatshirt.
In summer, in inland areas, where thunderstorms can break out, even if the weather is nice in the morning, care must be taken to lightning (therefore it's better not to take shelter in the woods or under the trees) and of possible streams swelling after heavy rains.

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