Climate of Latvia

Climate and weather in Latvia

Climate of Latvia

The climate in Latvia is temperate continental. The population density is lower than in much of Europe and large parts of Latvia are covered by forests and agricultural pastures. It is possible to see wild animals roaming around if you drive enough around Latvia.

The climate (continental humid) is comparable to cities such as Moscow and Toronto. It has four distinct seasons, each associated with different tasks and colors.

Daytime temperatures in Riga range from an average daily high of +21,7 in July to average daily high of -2,3 in January.

Nighttime temperatures in Riga range from an average daily low of +12,3 in July to average daily low of -7,8 in January.

Kuldīga church in Autumn
Kuldīga church in Autumn when trees turn yellow, giving it a romantic touch. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Latvia is a small country, so there are little temperature variations. However, the climate in the West is generally milder (warmer winters, cooler summers) than in the East.

Winters are traditionally considered “white” although there may be periods of thaw. January and February are the coldest months. Several weeks every year may be very cold, going under -20 at nights or even days. Throughout winter the interiors are heavily heated (by public heating, the bills of which make it controversial).

Snowy and icy road during winter
Snowy and icy road during winter. There may be little or delayed snow cleaning, leading to hazardous driving conditions. ©Augustinas Žemaitis

Summers are warm, but a few weeks may get very hot (above +30). Air conditioning is nevertheless limited with most homes and public buildings having none. Summers are the key period for seaside holidays.

Water temperature in the Baltic Sea is around 18 C in summer and considered especially warm if 20 C. In lakes and rivers, it gets significantly hotter.

Latvian terrain is extremely flat (all country under 350 m), meaning there are no altitude-induced climate differences.

June-to-September period has more precipitation but the difference is low with no real “wet period”. Considerable droughts may take place even during these months, but typically Latvia has more than enough water all year. February and March are the driest months.

Skyline of Daugavpils in summer
Skyline of Daugavpils in summer when the trees are green. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

If you come from outside Europe it may surprise you that Lithuania is very far to the north: further north than any US, Canadian, Japanese or Chinese major city. While the warm Gulf Stream supports its temperate climate and never allows Latvian ports to freeze, it could not change day/night cycle. High latitudes mean that in the deep winter the days are quite short (7 hours) whereas in mid-summer they are very long (17 hours), with nautical twilight lasting the whole night. Daylight savings time means that winter sunset is even earlier, getting dark ~4 PM.

The time zone for Latvia is UCT+2 in summer and UTC+3 in winter (due to daylight savings time). In reality, the sun rises and sets some 30 minutes earlier in the easternmost reaches of Latvia than in the westernmost.

There are no natural disasters like volcanoes, earthquakes or tornadoes (although the Western coast may get windy). Forest fires do happen, but they are minor. The cold in winter takes its toll sometimes but this is limited to the homeless. Heavy rains and strong winds do some damage, but usually only to the property and crops and this damage is minor compared to places like the United States.