Elbrus expeditions. Trekking and ski-touring in the Mount Elbrus area. Caucasus Mountains, Russia. Mt Elbrus climb. gb@geographicbureau.com phone: +7 812 2305794 fax: +7 812 2304576 Postal address: 197110, P.O.Box 162, St Petersburg, Russia

Over 25 years experience

CLIMATE IN THE CAUCASUS

The main peculiarities of the various regions occupied by the Central Caucasus are related to the altitude zoning and exposition of the entire Caucasus system to the prevailing western direction of winds. The central range lies not only on the border of moderate and subtropical climatic belts (N and S side slopes respectively), but also in the contact zone of Atlantic and Mediterranean humid air masses on the one hand, and of dry continental air masses originating from over the Inner Eurasia areas on the other.

Moving along the Central Caucasus from W to E there exist some differences in climatic characteristics that are related to the general increase of continental type climate the further E you go.

In the western part, winter is cold. Below 2000m it lasts from December to February; above that, from October to April. Daytime temperatures on the lower slopes remain at about -2 to -5°C, and higher up, -6 to-16°C; at night, -7 to-10° and-10° to-21°C respectively. Snowfall is abundant and snow storms are frequent in the high mountains. Winter season snow-cover depth might be 3m in the valleys. Summers are cool and mist frequent; the valley season lasts from May to September with temperatures of 16-20°C. Nights are cold, sometimes with frosts. Above 4000m, the best months are July and August; temperatures in the glacier zone are 3-5°C.

In the eastern part of the range winter, at heights up to 2000m, lasts from November to March;

at main ridge elevations, from October till April. Valley temperatures go from -2 to -9°C; higher up, from -5 to -15°C. Heavy snowfall is usual, sometimes with bad storms; in the valleys snow depth varies from 1.5 to 4m. Cloud cover marks half the winter period. Summer valley temperatures vary from 10-15°C; warm and moderately humid air is common. Higher in the mountains temperatures in July go from 0 to 12°C. Summer snowfalls are possible, and storms; mist and cloud are frequent. Precipitation is mostly in the form of short heavy showers, sometimes with thunder storms.