The weather really does affect the enjoyment of your holiday, and it’s no wonder we spend so much time talking about it. Sometimes the Estonian weather seems so unpredictable that there’s no point trying to understand it, but there certainly are some patterns worth taking note of.
Surprisingly for a country on the Baltic Sea, the greatest influence on Estonian weather is the Atlantic Ocean. The North Atlantic Current, part of the Gulf Stream, warms all of Europe, including Estonia. Estonia’s location on the north-west of the east European Plain means it is in a transitional zone between a maritime and a continental climate.
Westerly winds bring humid maritime air which make winters warmer than some other places at similar latitudes. Tallinn is at similar latitude to the very northern tip of Scotland, Newfound Land and Labrador, Southern Alaska or Siberia. Summers are also often milder due to the maritime air.
The Latitude leads to a large variation in the length of days, which is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Estonian climate. At the winter solstice the day is just over 6 hours long in Tallinn. At the summer solstice the day lasts a whopping 18:40 minutes. And even when “night” finally arrives it never actually feels dark.
Estonia receives an average of 1600-1900 hours of sunshine a year, which is roughly half the possible maximum. When the sun is shining you will see locals and tourists alike flock to sunny spots around the town to enjoy a drink in the sun or to work on their tans.
Statistically August is the wettest month, and September has the highest number of rainy days. During summer there is an average of around ten days when some rain occurs, which means that you can expect fine weather around two-thirds of the time.
Mean maximum temperatures are around 20 degrees in summer, on rare occasions the temperature will creep into the low 30’s. Be prepared for hot weather, because many buildings lack air conditioning, especially in the Old Town. Even in the mid 20’s Tallinn can seem hot.
The Baltic Sea does affect the weather, keeping coastal areas warmer in winter and cooler as summer approaches. The inland areas warm faster than the sea, so in spring coastal areas are cooler, but this difference is usually gone by the time summer arrives.
Estonian winters may seem long and harsh to many people. The minimum temperature is around -5 degrees, but may drop into the -20’s in Tallinn on occasions. Snow covers the ground for 75-135 days, with inland areas having the most snow for the longest period. No wonder Estonians are so good at cross country skiing!
If this is all too much information and you just want to know what the weather tomorrow will be, then there are plenty of sources for you to get climatically prepared. The most popular local source is http://www.weather.ee. At EstAdventures we use http://www.ilmajaam.ee, and although this is in Estonian, you will probably be able to figure it out.
Whatever the forecast, you had best be prepared for all sorts of weather.
Estonian weather can change very quickly. As the saying goes; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!”