The continent of Europe can be conveniently divided into five distinct climatic zones. Each climatic zone has its peculiar feature of temperature and rainfall. The following is a brief description of each of them.
1. Hot Dry Summers, Warm Wet Winters
This type of climate is also call the Mediterranean type of climate. This is because most of the countries which have this climate lie close to the Mediterranean Sea. The peculiar feature of the climate is that the summers are hot and dry ; the winters warm and wet. This climatic zone includes a greater part of Southern Europe i.e., Southern Portugal, almost whole of Spain, South of France, a greater part of Italy, Balkan States and Greece. Temperature in the summer is quite high; Mean temperature of the hottest month at Rome is 76 F (24C) at Athens 80 F ( 27C). The sky is cloudless and the days are beautifully sunny. In winter when most of the Europe is experiencing a harsh winter with bitter cold , these lands enjoy quite warm temperatures . Rome for instance has a temperature of 45 F ( 7 C ) in January , Athens 48 F ( 9 C ) and Palermo in Sicily Island of 51 F (11 C) . Compare these figures with those of Berlin 30 F ( -1.1 C ) and Moscow 14 F ( -10 C ) in the same months. No wonder that the areas belonging to this climatic zone are one of the most popular tourist resorts in the world.
2. Mild Winters , Cool Summers
This type of Climate is also called the British type of Climate. It is found in North Western Europe that includes the British Isles, the greater part of France excluding Southern France, Belgium, the Nederland and South western Norway. This region has rain all the year round. The summers are cool; typical temperatures are around 60 F ( 16 C) and the winters are mild . The temperatures of the winter months are usually above 32 F ( 0 C) . Take London for example. It has a temperature of 59 F ( 15 C ) in midsummer and 36 F ( 2 C) in midwinter. Paris has 65 F ( 18 C ) and 37 F (3 C) respectively in summer and winter . The climate of the region as a whole is mild , however frequent cloudiness makes the weather gloomy especially in winter. The region is under the influence of the winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean all the year round . This is the reason that these areas are spared the extremes of hot and cold.
3. Cold Winters , Warm Summers
This type of climate is found in the heart of Europe in countries like Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland etc. The winters are cold with at least one month below 32 F ( O C) and summers are quite warm. For instance at both Berlin and Vienna , the hottest month is above 66 F ( 19 C ) and coldest below 32 F ( O C). The days are warmer in summer and cooler in winter than the British Type because these areas are located at a greater distance from the Atlantic ocean than the cool winter type and its moderating influence does not reach them. These areas also have rain throughout the years and maximum rain falls in summer but the skies are much clearer than those of the British type and Germany is famous for its warm and beautiful sunny days in summer. Some areas in this region like Switzerland have a tendency of cool summers because of their height but the general pattern of weather demands its inclusion in this type of weather rather than under the British type of climate.
4. Very cold winters and Hot summers
The areas which fall under this category include the countries of Eastern and Eas-Central Europe which includes Southern and Central Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania , Bulgaria etc. These areas are located very far away from sea and have a typical continental climate of hot summers and very cold winters . These areas have at least two months below 32 F ( 0 C ) in winter and at least one month above 68 F ( 20 C) in summer. For instance Belgrade and Bucharest both have three months each below 32 F , Kiev in Ukraine and Moscow both have five. Similarly in Summer Moscow and Kiev both have at least one month touching 68 F ( 20 C ) while Bucharest and Belgrade have two months exceeding 70 F ( 21 C). This region also has a summer rain maxima but the rain fall is les than that of Central Europe.
5. Very cold most of the year with a very short summer.
The North of Russia, Norway except the south western part, Northern Sweden and Finland etc fall under this category. The winter is very severe and long while the summer is short and warm. It is usual to have six to eight months below 32 F in these areas. The rainfall is light to moderate which tends to be scanty as we move towards the poles . These areas are covered with snow for most months of the year and during a very brief summer beautiful flowers grow in abundance. This area is the coldest of all the areas described above hence very thinly populated. The extreme winter is due to two reasons; its high latitudinal position and remoteness from sea. Some of the areas included in this climatic zone have very long days in summer and very short days in winter. Hence they are appropriately called Lands of Midnight Sun.
The above description about different climates found in Europe is in no sense perfect but it does give a general idea about what type of weather to expect when travelling to the Continent.