Weather and Climate in the Adriatic

Thursday December 14, 2017

Weather and Climate in the Adriatic Sea

Wondering if the Adriatic Sea is warm? How's the weather like there? Is it safe and ideal for me to sail there?

Let’s just state a historic fact – the eastern Adriatic coast has been sailed over millennia because of the numerous islands, coves and ports where sailors could find protection even against sudden storms. The western Adriatic coast lacks safe havens. So, control over the eastern coast has been very important over the centuries. That’s why you’ll see traces of the Illyrian, Greek, Roman, Croatian, Hungarian, Venetian, Austrian, British, French and Yugoslav dominance.

Climate in the Adriatic

According to the Köppen climate classification, there are 2 kinds of climate in the Adriatic. In the northern part, the climate is classified as humid, subtropical climate (Cfa).  The summers are wet and the winters are cold and dryAdriatic Sea - wether and climate in Croatia. Due to the Bura, which brings cold air from the mainland, winter in the northern Adriatic is colder than in the southern Adriatic. In the north, snow is more frequent, and sometimes sea shallows might freeze.

The southern part of the Adriatic is classified as hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa). This means most days are warm and dry, and the air temperature can fluctuate by 20°C in the same season. There is also a tendency of strong heat waves, something that usually happens in July and August.  The winter is much milder. It usually rains in November and December but sunny  days are  frequent even in January and February, when Bura is dominant.

Winds and Sea

In Croatia the most common winds are bura (the bora) and sirocco. Bura is a cold, strong wind which blows throughout the year. It is more frequent and strong in the winter, but it can happen in summer as well, and sailors should always head to warnings of upcoming bura. It starts at the feet of high mountain ranges near the sea, which send it swooping down to the sea. The strong air passes through cuttings and funnels and hits the ground or the surface of the sea, creating waves.

The other main wind is called Sirocco, or Jugo. It brings humid and warm air, often carrying sand from Sahara. As the warm air passes through the Mediterranean it collects moisture.  When the air is forced upwards over the island hills and coastal mountains, it brings rain or rain dust. This wind may create challenging sailing conditions. It is more frequent and strong in the winter.

The difference of temperature along the Croatian Adriatic coastline cauzes breezes. During the day, the land is warmed by the strong sun, and the air gets warmer and lighter, so it goes up, to be replaced by colder air coming from the sea. In the night, the opposite happens, which means that the air is leaving from the land and going to the sea. If this rhythm of the daily breezes is regular, then this is a sign that the weather will be stable.   

In the summer, Cyclones pass through the north of Croatia, bringing rain and summer storms. Sailors need to be on the lookout for these kinds of thunderstorms since they can be sudden and dangerous. Summer thunderstorms are more common in the north than in the south.

Tides are not so common in the Adriatic since the difference is from 0,3 to 1,1 m (in comparison to 19,6 or 16,1 m in Canada or France).

Although the Adriatic Sea has its known patterns and changes, the sea is always capricious and above all not to be underestimated.


The temperature of the Adriatic Sea is usually from 22 to 30 °C (72 to 86 °F) in the summer. In the winter the temperature ranges from 12 to 14 °C (54 to 57 °F). In the western part of the Adriatic coast, the temperature drops to 9 °C (48 °F) during the winter.

Rain, Hail and Snow

In August and July there is usually no rain at all. Sometimes though, you might get the month’s rain, all in one day. Rain is often caused by Jugo wind. Short, heavy showers, with flash floods are also common.

Hail is also possible anytime of the year. It is however rare and when it happens it doesn’t last long.

Snow by the sea is something extremely uncommon and so is frozen sea.

To sum it up: sailing in Croatia  is safe and  you will enjoy the weather. Of course, always check the weather forecast before sailing, be careful  and pay attention to local weather signs.

By Marilena & Jelena at 14 Dec 2017, 14:24 PM