stampa | chiudi

The Climate

The Climate The whole Apennine ridge, and in particular the Monte Cucco Massif, is influenced both by the continental climate from the Balkans (dry and cold, with northerly winds) and by the temperate maritime climate (warm, humid air-currents blowing in from the western Mediterranean basin). The “warm” Tyrrhenian Sea lies 150 km away, with no real obstacles interposing, while the Adriatic is at a distance of 55 km. The mountains of the Park therefore constitute the frontier zone, without any sheltering relief systems, and there is often a battle between the south-westerly and north-easterly winds to gain the upper hand. As each weather front crosses the area, which lies on the border between the different types of air-systems (cold and dry, or warm and wet), it brings with it precipitation.

The heaviest rain accompanies currents moving from west to east, while snowfalls result from the continental currents sweeping in to meet the wetter, warmer air. To summarize: the climate of the Umbria-Marche Apennines can be defined as a “temperate sub-continental” climate (originating from the Balkans) in perpetual contrast with a “temperate sub-littoral” climate (deriving from the Mediterranean). This means that everything can change within a matter of hours, depending on the prevalence of one or other type of air current. The average annual temperature at valley level is about 11°C. A different scenario, however, applies to the higher elevations: at 1500 m, for example, the annual average hardly reaches 4°C. The precipitation ranges from 1,100 mm per year in the Valle del Chiascio to almost 2,500 mm annually in the mountainous regions above 1000 m, which have the highest recorded precipitation in the whole of central Italy. The driest months are July/August, and also January/February (a trick effect of the “temperate sub-continental” climate). The wettest times are October/November, and again April/May. A study of a thirty-year period revealed an annual average of 83 days of rain, with a maximum of 9 – 11 wet days per month in November and May. In July and August, there were 2 – 3 rainy days, on average. Snowfalls are more common in January/February (but also sometimes occur in late November through December). The weather station at Scirca, standing at 560 m and at the foot of the western flank of Monte Cucco, receives an average of 51.7 cm of snow annually, with snow-cover on the ground for 18 days per year. At heights above 1000 m, snowfall can reach a total of almost 200 cm annually, with permanent snow-cover for more than 50 days.

The situation becomes more exaggerated as soon as one moves onto the eastern slopes or enters the forests of tall trees. In these places, even at lower levels, there is a greater possibility of snowfall, and of permanent snow-cover. The wind pattern, also based on the thirty-year average, reveals a predominance of north-easterly winds, while winds from the south-west are the second most common. The former occur about 90 days a year, and the latter about 70 days annually. One must be prepared to encounter the Bora wind at high altitudes, which can reach speeds of up to160 kilometres per hour!