The climate differs markedly among the various regions of the Czech Republic, depending on the height above sea level. Generally speaking, the higher you are, average temperatures may drop more and rainfall is more likely. Many other factors also play a role in this – the border mountain ranges, for example, significantly influence ground-level air flow and rainfall.
Various height levels of the sun during the year cause the changing of the seasons, differentiated from each other mainly by the development of temperatures and precipitation. Similarly to the whole moderate northern band, the beginning of the year in the Czech Republic is also characterized by a cold winter. After this comes spring, followed by a warm summer and chilly autumn. The alternation of the seasons has a marked effect, above all on vegetation.
The weather at any given time may differ significantly from the long-term average. This variability of the weather is caused mainly by the changeable location and magnitude of two main pressure centers: the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. Mainly during the warm middle of the year, it can generally be said that expansion of the high pressure projection into our territory causes warmer and drier temperatures, whereas the Icelandic Low manifests itself with a greater number of atmospheric fronts, which bring more clouds and precipitation.
The climate of the Czech Republic can then be labeled as moderate, of course with great local diversity seen throughout the year. Further changeability then is up to the weather itself.
Find out more about the climate and weather in the Czech Republic on the website of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.
Diversity of the Czech climate
Some of the main climatological factors are the geographical latitude, height above sea level and distance from the ocean. Differences in geographical latitude are negligible in the Czech Republic; the northernmost point is only 2.5 degrees further north than the southernmost. The most important factor in the diversity of the Czech climate remains the varied topography, thanks to which the climate varies among individual regions of the country.
The average air temperature is strongly dependent on the height above sea level. When the temperature on the highest mountain in the Czech Republic, Sněžka (1,602 meters), is only 0.4 °C , the lowlands of southeast Moravia can experience temperatures of almost 10 °C. The highest average air temperatures have also been recorded in Prague, where the effect of the city climate has a warming effect – the “heat island” phenomenon.
The annual rainfall is also markedly dependent on the height above sea level. If we want to find the rainiest area in the Czech Republic, we would have to look to the highest mountain range with steep slopes facing northwest. The average total rainfall there is in excess of 1,200 millimeters. On the other hand, the driest region of the Czech Republic, apart from the lowest-situated, southeast Moravia, is northwest Bohemia, which is shaded in this direction by the Krušné Mountains.
Characteristics of the seasons
December, January and February are counted as the winter months. The coldest of these is January, when even in the lowlands the average monthly temperature falls below 0 °C. If there is any precipitation in winter, it is usually snowfall in the mountains. In the lowlands it can alternately rain and snow. Snow coverage usually lasts for several months at higher altitudes above sea level, which attracts winter sports enthusiasts. Snow can remain for several days, even in the lowlands, although most winters it is rather “slushy.”
During March, April and May, there is a sharp increase in temperatures. We can get an idea of the character of individual months from the following saying: “Březen - za kamna vlezem, duben - ještě tam budem, máj - půjdeme v háj“ (“March – we get behind the stove, April – we’ll still be there, May – off we go to the garden”). Snow coverage usually disappears in the mid-spring, even in the highest mountains of the Czech Republic, so even there the swift growth of vegetation so typical for spring can occur. Czech rivers are at their fullest in spring as a result of the melting snow. There are many Czech folk traditions connected with this period.
If you love heat, the best time to visit the Czech Republic is July, when the average temperature is 20 °C warmer than in January. The hottest daily temperatures can be in excess of 30 °C. Days such as these can be pleasantly spent near the water, which truly heats to a suitable temperature for swimming in the second half of summer. Another way to escape the sultry summer heat is to take a trip to the mountains, where the average daily temperatures are just over 10 °C. The hottest months are also those with the most rainfall as the hot air brings the highest level of moisture to the Czech Republic.
The first of the autumn months is September, which is still relatively hot and markedly drier than the preceding month. The period of good weather that usually comes in August is known as Indian Summer. The average daily temperatures usually fall once again below 10 °C around the start of October, which is when the leaves on the trees begin to change into a multitude of colors and fall to the ground: This is why the Czech word for November is derived from the words for falling leaves. The first light frosts can also occur at this time, announcing the nearness of the coming winter.