WEATHER


In Armenia, the climate is continental, with cold winters and hot summers, and usually with little rain. Armenia is a mountainous country, and only a small portion of its territory is located below 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) above sea level, while there are no plains: the climate becomes both colder and wetter (and snowy in winter as well) with increasing altitude, while at lower elevations the rains are scarce and the summer is very hot. The driest region, where precipitation drops below 300 millimetres (12 inches) per year, is the west, which includes the capital, and its altitude goes below 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).

In winter, cold air masses predominate, and after having reached the country from the north, they tend to stagnate in the valleys, causing severe frosts; spring is a volatile season and sees the most frequent rains, though generally they remain not abundant, because as mentioned, this country is generally arid, at least at lower elevations. Summer is dry and sunny, but with some afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains.

From the mountains, a down-slope dry and warm wind similar to Föhn or Chinook can reach the valleys, especially in winter, but also in spring and autumn.

The capital Yerevan is located at 800 meters (2,600 feet) above sea level, therefore at the lowest altitudes of the country, and has an average temperature in January of -2.5 °C (27.5 °F), and of 26.5 °C (80 °F) in July, with a maximum average temperature of 34 °C (93 °F), but also with peaks of about 40 °C (104 °F). So here summer is hot despite the altitude, even though the humidity is low and the breezes from the mountains bring a bit of relief. Winter is rather cold: in the worst moments the mercury can plunge to -15/-20 °C (-4/5 °F), there is an average of a hundred days with minimum temperatures below freezing per year, and snow, though usually not abundant, can cover the ground for weeks. In winter the mountains are covered with snow, and the inhabitants of the capital go skiing in Tsaghkadzor.

In Gyumri, 525 mm (20 in) of rain (or snow) per year fall, confirming the rule that the areas located at higher altitudes receive more rainfall. Here, even in summer sometimes it can rain because of afternoon thunderstorms, which can occur in the mountains, and therefore the driest season (at least in quantity) is winter, when precipitation, though not abundant, always occurs in the form of snow, while the wettest period runs from April to June: in May and June the thunderstorms are a bit more frequent, because a bit of cold air can still arrive at high altitudes, increasing the thermal contrasts, while in July and August the atmosphere becomes warmer even at high elevations, and therefore it becomes more stable.

Sevan, located at 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level, on the lake of the same name, in winter is not colder than Gyumri, because the waters of the lake slightly mitigate the climate: in fact the average in January is -8 °C (18 °F), while the average in August is just 15 °C (58.5 °F).

In a year, the rainfall amounts to about 500 mm (20 in), again with a maximum between spring and early summer, and a minimum in winter.

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