Romania’s extreme conditions: from Danube-freezing winters to 42C summers

Stephen Moss
·1-min read

Like other countries in south-east Europe, Romania has a temperate continental climate, with very warm summers and cold, snowy winters.

In the capital, Bucharest, summer temperatures regularly reach the mid-30s, while in winter they drop well below zero. Springs are short – the shift between winter and summer taking place rapidly between mid-April and mid-May.

Winters are often cold enough to freeze many of the country’s smaller rivers. The largest, the Danube, also freezes occasionally – most recently in 2012, a very cold winter, when temperatures plummeted as low as -32.5C.

In January 2014, severe blizzards shut down the south-east of the country. Summer heatwaves can also be extreme: in 2012, temperatures rose to 42C, causing a number of excess deaths.

Precipitation is fairly low away from the mountain ranges such as the Carpathians, and occurs mostly during spring and summer, sometimes accompanied by thunderstorms. Winds often blow from the Russian steppes to the north and east; they can be bone-chillingly cold in winter but very hot and dry in summer.

Romania’s only coastline is a stretch running for 141 miles (225km) along the western shores of the Black Sea, which is itself entirely landlocked. Here, conditions are less extreme than elsewhere in the country, with considerably less rainfall, making resorts such as Constanta a popular holiday destination.