Cantabria Climate

Due to the gulf stream, Cantabria, as well as the rest of “Green Spain”, has a much more temperate climate than might be expected for its latitude, which is comparable to that of Oregon. The region has a humid oceanic climate, with warm summers and mild winters. Annual precipitation is around 1,200 mm at the coasts and higher in the mountains. The mean temperature is about 14 °C (57.2 °F). Snow is frequent in the higher zones of Cantabria between the months of October and March. Some zones of Picos de Europa, over 2,500 metres high, have an alpine climate with snow persisting year round. The driest months are July and August. The mountainous relief of Cantabria has a dominant effect on local micro-climate in Cantabria. It is the main cause of the peculiar meteorologic situations like the so-called “suradas” (Ábrego wind), due to the foehn effect: the southerly wind coming down from the mountains blows strongly and dry, increasing the temperature closer to the coast. This causes a decrease in air humidity and rainfall. These conditions are more frequent in autumn and winter, and the temperatures are commonly higher than 20 °C (68 °F). Fires are often helped by this type of wind: one example is the fire that destroyed part of the city of Santander in the winter of 1941. In these specific cases in the southern part of the mountain range the dry adiabatic gradient produces different conditions to the rest of the region: the wind there is fresher and more humid, and there is more rain.

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