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Climate - Ukraine

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go, what to pack

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Flag - Ukraine

Map - Ukraine

Ukraine has a continental climate, with cold winters, and warm summers, which become progressively warmer as you move to the south and east. The southern area, which overlooks the Black Sea, has a slightly milder weather in winter, but we cannot speak of Mediterranean climate (winter is cold anyway) except in the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula (see Yalta).
Ukraine is a large country, the second largest in Europe, with an area of 603,600 km², and consists largely of plains (in the east) and hills (in the west).

Winter is freezing in the major part of Ukraine: the average temperatures are below freezing even during the day, except in the most sheltered areas of Crimea. The average temperatures in January are around -3 degrees Celsius in the north-west of the country (see Lviv), and decrease gradually as we proceed eastwards, being of -5.5 °C in the capital Kiev, and going down to -6 °C in the eastern areas. Moving south, the temperature rises a bit, but remains below freezing, around -2/-3 °C. Snow covers Kiev for a hundred days per year.
Here are the average temperatures of Kiev:
Kiev average temperatures
Kiev J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) -9 -8 -3 2 8 12 13 12 8 2 -2 -5
Max (°C) -2 -1 3 12 20 22 23 23 18 11 3 0

The coldest periods are those in which the Siberian Anticyclone moves over the country: in these situations, the temperature can drop to -30 °C, and even below. The average winter temperature has increased by a few degrees over the last decades, especially in the inland areas. Anyway, periods of severe cold are still possible, but nowadays they are rarer and tend to last less than in the past.
The coast of the Black Sea is not so mild in winter. In Odessa, the average temperature in January is -1.5 °C, in a year there is an average of 100 days with minimum temperatures below freezing, and 40 days with snow, and the cold record of the past 20 years is -23 °C. Here are the average temperatures of Odessa:
Odessa average temperatures
Odessa J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) -4 -3 0 5 10 15 16 16 11 6 1 -2
Max (°C) 1 1 6 12 19 23 26 26 21 14 7 3

The Black Sea, cold in winter, becomes acceptable for swimming in July and August, while it is a bit cool in June and September. In the east, the Sea of Azov, more closed and sheltered, in summer becomes a bit warmer.
Sea temperature Odessa
Odessa J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sea (°C) 7 5 6 9 14 20 22 23 20 16 12 9

Crimea and the Sea of Azov are affected by cold winds, sometimes stormy. The only area that is relatively mild is the southern peninsula of Crimea (see Yalta), south of the Crimean Mountains, which protect the coast from the cold northern wind, and turn it into a down-slope, relatively warm and dry wind. Here the average winter temperatures are about 4/5 °C.
Yalta average temperatures
Yalta J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 2 2 4 8 13 17 21 21 16 11 7 4
Max (°C) 7 7 10 14 20 25 28 28 23 18 12 9

In spring, the temperatures and the sunshine hours grow rapidly. In March, the thaw occurs in continental areas, with possible difficulties in travelling on rural roads, in April the first warm days alternate with sudden returns of cold, with possible snow and frosts, while in May the temperatures generally start to become permanently pleasant, especially in the second part.

Summer in Ukraine is pleasant in the north-west, with maximum temperatures around 22/23 °C in July and August, and it becomes progressively warmer proceeding eastwards, so that highs are about 23 °C in Kiev and 26 °C in Kharkiv. In the south, summer becomes quite hot, with highs around 26/28 °C in the area of the Black Sea: in July the average maximum temperature is 26 °C in Odessa, 28 °C in Yalta, in southern Crimea, and 27/28 °C in the south-east inland areas (see Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk). Even the minimum temperatures increase gradually from the north-west, where they are around 12/13 °C, to the central areas, where they are around 14/16 °C, to the shores of the Black Sea, where they go from 17 °C to 20 °C. This means that summer in the Black Sea is similar that of the Mediterranean Sea (although you have to take into account 5 or 6 days of rain per month, while in most of the Mediterranean it almost never rains).
The inland regions, although they have a lower average temperature than the southern ones, overlooking the sea (because sometimes they are affected by Atlantic disturbances or by cold air masses from the north), they are, however, subject to heat waves, which last some days, and can bring the temperature up to 33/35 °C.

In autumn, the temperatures decrease rapidly. September is still a pleasant month in the Black Sea area, with highs around 23 °C, while the north it's already cool, with highs around 18 °C. Sometimes it can get cold, with the first snowfalls, already in October; the turning point is, however, in November, when it starts to get cold across the country, and the sunshine becomes scarce.


The only mountainous area of some importance is found in the west of Ucraine, south of Lviv, where there is a strip of the Carpathian Mountains, which reaches its highest point in Mount Hoverla, 2,061 metres high. Here of course the temperature decreases with altitude, especially in summer, because in winter the cold air clings to the soil, causing a thermal inversion which holds the cold in the plains. In summer, thunderstorms in the mountains are more frequent and abundant.
Another mountainous area, though less extended, are the aforementioned Crimean Mountains, about 1,500 metres high.

Precipitation in Ukraine is quite frequent throughout the year, but not abundant in most of the country, since it hovers between 500 and 600 millimetres per year in the vast interior area of plains and hills. The rainiest season is summer, because of afternoon thunderstorms. Winter, however, is not dry, because precipitation, though not abundant, is quite frequent, and often occurs in the form of light snow.
Here is the average precipitation in Kiev.
Average precipitation Kiev
Kiev J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 45 40 35 45 55 65 70 70 45 45 55 40 610
Days 12 10 9 8 9 10 10 10 7 8 10 12 115

In the Black Sea region, rainfall is even more scarce, being below 500 mm per year, since the summer thunderstorms are rarer. The only area which is quite rainy is the western area of the Carpathians, where precipitation can reach 1,200 mm per year, in addition to the small area of the Crimean Mountains, where it can reach 1,000 mm. West of the Carpathians there is also a small area of flat land, where rainfall exceeds 700 mm per year.

When to go

The best time to visit Ukraine as a whole runs from mid-May to mid-September. Since in July and August hot days can occur, you can opt for the two periods, mid-May to late June and the first half of September, in order to avoid heat waves, which may occur in the midsummer especially the south-central and the east of the country; anyway, for those who stand the heat, July and August are also fine.
For a beach holiday in the Black Sea, the best time is mid-summer (July and August), when you will find a sunny and warm weather, tempered by breezes, with a few rare rainy days.
The summer sunshine amount in Ukraine is good, especially on the coasts of the Black Sea, where summer is similar to that of the Mediterranean coasts.

What to pack

In winter: very warm clothes, sweater or fleece, down jacket, fur hat, gloves and scarf. For Jalta: sweater, jacket, raincoat or umbrella.

In summer: in the north-west: spring/autumn clothes, being ready to add or remove the outer layer; umbrella. In the north-east and Kiev: T-shirts and shorts for hot days, jacket and sweater for the evening and cooler days; umbrella.
In the south and the Black Sea: light clothes, a sweatshirt or light jacket for the evening.

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