Turkey Weather Overview
Turkey borders the Black Sea and Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east, Iraq to the southeast, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest. Turkey's climate, like its location, is varied and complicated to say the least. Because of the country's geographical conditions it is difficult, if not impossible, to pin-point a climate for the country as a whole.
Turkey is split into 7 different regions- Marmara, Blacksea Coast, Eastern Anatolian, Southeastern Anatolia, Central Anatolia, Mediterranean and Aegean. Each region has a vastly different climate which is primarily affected by its proximity to mountain ranges and different seas and oceans. On the whole, the Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have typical Mediterranean climates with hot summers and mild, wet winters. The east of the country is mountainous with warm summers and very cold, snowy winters. Central Turkey, located on an interior plateau has low rainfall and cold or very cold winters.
North West Turkey
The Marmara region of North West Turkey is home to Istanbul, the nation's largest city. Istanbul lies on the Marmara Sea which is the inland sea that separates the Asian part of Turkey from its European part and connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. As a result of its proximity to the coast, Istanbul and its surrounding region experiences a temperate continental climate. The weather conditions mirror a cooler version of a typical Mediterranean climate.
The region is split in the middle by the Sea of Marmara and the narrow Bosphorus Strait (also known as the Istanbul Strait) with strong, cool currents that only experienced swimmers should attempt.
Summer in Istanbul runs from June to September, July generally being the warmest month. The highest ever recorded temperature in Istanbul saw the city sweltering through a 37 degree day, but on average summer temperatures are around 28 degrees. The summer months are also the driest months, though not as dry as some parts of central Turkey which can experience arid conditions year round, particularly in summer.Winter in Istanbul starts quite late, with conditions beginning to really cool down in mid December. December sees an average minimum of 5 degrees and an average maximum of 11 degrees. January and February are the coolest months, with average minimums of 3 and 2 degrees respectively. March sees conditions remaining cool, with an average minimum of 3 degrees and an average maximum of 11 degrees. Winters in this region (like the other coastal regions in Turkey) are generally wetter and milder than its interior counterparts.
Istanbul is known to be quite a windy city, as it is in the path of two prevailing winds- the "poyraz" and the "Iodos" which both blow from the south. The Poyraz brings with it cool and rainy conditions, whereas the Iodos is a warm wind.
As you head further south toward the cities of Izmit and Bursa, weather conditions begin to vary. This region experiences slightly warmer winters that the Black Sea coast. Bursa for example has seen highs of 40 degrees in the midst of summer, as with Izmit which on the 11 of August 1970 saw the city record its highest ever temperature of 41.6 degrees.
Izmit observes a split climate, all depending on your proximity to the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. As you move closer to the coast, conditions become slightly more temperate. The area around Izmit does, however, lack the refreshing summer sea breezes that regions of similar climates play host to, so as a result conditions can be quite sticky and humid.
Winter in the Marmara region varies enormously as you head north to south, primarily due to the presence of the Uldaga Mountains which tower behind the city of Bursa. Bursa is home to Turkey's most popular ski resort and winter sport centre. Weather conditions through the winter months are cooler and sometimes harsher than other regions of similar climates. Generally as you head further east the weather cools down, but snowfall is now low throughout the region. Istanbul on average sees 1 to 2 weeks of snowfall throughout winter, with the snowfall often being quite heavy on about 5 -7 days.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Istanbul and Izmit was -8 degrees (1960) but record lows of -16 have been recorded in the past in parts of the region. 1978 saw Istanbul endure its way through a severe winter in which the main airport was partly closed for 3 days. On the whole winter sees an average temperature of 5.6 degrees.
Autumn is generally the longest season in the region, bringing a picturesque morning haze for several months. Spring is comparatively shorter, with March maintaining winter-like weather of cool and rainy conditions, before moving into April and May which witness typical spring temperatures.
Precipitation (snow and rain) also varies as you explore different parts of the region. Rainfall decreases as you head further south west, with the coast of Black Sea averaging 1000mm annual precipitation decreasing to 800mm once you are in and around Izmit. Bursa sees 668 mm of annual precipitation, which is still enough to keep the inner city's parks and gardens so famously green- the city is often called "Yesil Bursa" which translates to "Green Bursa." The city is also surrounded by vast forests, rolling farmland, and low hills- dissimilar to inland Turkey which can be quite arid.
Northern Turkey: Black Sea Coast
The Black Sea Coast of Turkey comprises 1700km of coast line which is fertile, luscious and green. The Black Sea climate is characterized as being continental, which means that the region is subject to pronounced seasonal variations. This is the most popular area in Turkey with tourists who are attracted by the long, golden coastline and summer heat.
Samsun is the largest city and the capital of the Samsun Province. It is located between two river deltas which extend into the Black Sea. Like the region as a whole, Samsun experiences high rainfall year round. The region as a whole averages 781mm of annual rainfall, and is generally humid and cloudy a lot of the time. Because of the year round rainfall the area is rich and fruitful, which makes for lush grass which feeds cattle to produce some of Turkey's best milk, cream and milk.
The area has a tendency to be quite humid, with an average relative humidity of 72% which means that it may seem hotter than it is or cooler than it is, so keep this in mind when packing for your visit.
As you head further east around the coast you will find Trabzon which is a city located on the north eastern coast as you near Georgia and Russia. Trabzon has a fairly typical Black Sea climate with cool winters, warm summers and high humidity. January sees Trabzon at its coolest, falling to average lows of about 5 degrees. Summer can see the city hit highs of 27 degrees, and the water temperature swings between 10°–20°C throughout the year.
If you are planning to visit the Black Sea Coast it is best to visit during the summer months, though keep in mind that this is peak season. If you want to avoid the holiday crowds then autumn and spring with their mild weather are preferable. While the shoulder seasons do see the mercury falling, pack a light jacket and you will be fine. The coastal regions are the areas of Turkey that are suitable to visit year round as no major temperature extremes are experienced.
Central Turkey/ Central Anatolia
Generally, as you head towards inland Turkey the climate becomes increasingly harsh: summers are hotter and winters are colder. It could probably be said that the worst part of Turkey's climate is the severe cold that is experience in these inland regions. The Central Anatolia region experiences a mix of continental and steppe climate.
A steppe climate is characterized by warm summers, extremely cold winters and a great difference between day time and night time temperatures. Found in the middle of continents and on the edge of high mountains, the mountains have the effect of blocking any moist air from any oceans. As a result there is not enough precipitation to support much flora growth, and the plants adapt to the drought conditions by being small and growing extensive root systems. There isn't much humidity in the air because steppe climates are located away from the ocean and close to mountain barriers.
Within this region is the nation's capital and second largest city, Ankara. The city itself experiences a harsh, dry, continental climate of cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. The rainfall that the city witnesses falls primarily in the spring and autumn months. Ankara sits 3000ft above sea level on top of a high plateau. The area doesn't experience much rainfall, averaging only 382mm annually, but does witness a large amount of snow fall. On the whole The Anatolian Plateau is much more subject to extremes than are the coastal areas. January, February and March see average minimums of -4 degrees, - 3 degree and -1 degrees respectively. From July to September there is minimal rain, and average maximums reach 26 to 31 degrees from July to August. This area is also characterised by huge differences in temperature from day to night, typical of steppe climates. This is due to the high level of insolation produced by low rainfall and humidity.
As you head into the Eastern Central Anatolia Region, the summers are cooler and the winters are extremely cold and snowy. Eskisehir has moderate weather conditions, with a cold, but not unbearable, -2 degree average in the winter months, and a pleasant 20 degree average throughout summer.
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