Mariusz Polok

Fundacja Speleologia Polska

Albania's climate is shaped by two main climatic zones. Western central and southern Albania is a zone of warm Mediterranean climate. The north and east of the country is a zone of mixing influences of the continental climate from the Balkans with the mild Mediterranean masses. The influx of continental air masses is particularly visible and important in the winter, and the degree of continentalization of the climate depends most on the height above sea level.
The Albanian Alps are the part of Albania where the continentalism of the climate is most visible.
The average annual temperature for the Albanian Alps is about 90C, but the range of expected temperatures is from -200C in winter to +350C in summer. The hottest month of the year is August, when we can expect up to 28 days with a maximum temperature above 200 C. At the other extreme is January with about 20 days with frost. Throughout the year, days with frost can be expected from October to May. On the other hand, hot days (temp > 300C) may appear from June to September with a maximum in August (4 days) and July (3 days).
The clash of air masses from the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans over the Albanian Alps, each time associated with overcoming this high mountain massif, is most visible in the very large amount of annual precipitation.
Precipitation occurs mainly in November-April with a maximum in November-January and can reach an annual average of 1,800 to 2,280 mm (Iballe station). The number of days with precipitation is the highest in the period November-May and varies in the range of 12 -13 days/month. The maximum falls in April when every other day there is precipitation. The fewest days with precipitation can be expected in the summer, with the maximum in July-August, when there are statistically about 9 rainy days. In winter, the snow cover remains in the mountains. In the valleys for about 100 days, and in the apex zones up to > 250 days. The thickness of the snow cover in the mountains reaches even several meters (Kukes 160 cm). A distinguishing feature of the area of the Albanian Alps is heavy torrential rainfall. In several stations, 24-hour precipitation maxima of 420 mm at Bogë station, 345 mm at Shkodra station, and 310.7 mm at Puke station were recorded (L.Muçaj, V. Mustaqi, E. Bruci 2010). In the summer, precipitation is associated with the phenomenon of thunderstorms. The month in which we can expect their greatest intensity is from June to August with a maximum in July.
Sunshine and cloudiness
Definitely the best period of good weather are the months of June-August, during this period we can expect up to 28 days with sunny weather or slightly cloudy weather. We can expect the most such days in August. After this period, the number of cloudy days increases significantly to reach an annual permanent maximum of 12 to 14 cloudy days in November-April.
Our weather experiences
We have been visiting Albania at different times of the year for 15 years. We managed to develop our own climate "model" with particular emphasis on conducting surface and cave exploration in optimal weather conditions.
Our many years of experience indicate that August is the best time to organize exploration activities. This is by far the warmest and sunniest month of the year with the least amount of precipitation and few thunderstorms, although of course it is not without them. The downside is the high risk of spontaneous fires lasting many days over large areas. Fires, if there are a lot of them, and sometimes they make it difficult to operate, sometimes even preventing it.
August is also the period with the annual minimum of snow cover. Our experience shows that June is still a period of full snow cover with a significant thickness, especially at altitudes above 1700 m above sea level. July is a period of numerous storms and intensive disappearance of the snow cover. On the other hand, in September, during one of the trips, we already recorded snowfall