Weather forecasts Croatia
25. 03. 2012. comments: 0
Croatia weather forecasts – all that matters in one place. Not every forecast can be trusted to the same degree about every aspect of weather it predicts. Here I compiled the most reliable weather forecasts and numerical models with some useful notes. The emphasis is on best climbing locations in mountainous regions like Istria, Gorski kotar, Velebit, Paklenica, Biokovo (...) because that's were general weather forecasts are most likely to go wrong.
Weather forecasts Croatia
Note: English translation and a major update finished on 05 Dec 2019. Some further updates are planned in the near future.
The structure of this page
The links to weather forecasts and numerical models on this page are grouped according to the source, type of prediction they are best used for and if possible by the location in Croatia to which they refer. Only the sources which are most accurate at predicting weather in Croatia are listed. Before the actual list of all the selected sources there is this somewhat extensive introduction which should help you understand the challenges you are up against when trying to predict the weather in Croatia.
Terrain features dictate the (un)predictability of weather for a particular location
In such a small but orographically extremely diverse region there are of course locations having their own microclimate for which no weather forecast applies with any reasonable accuracy. But still there are forecasts and models which are better suited for one location than the other. In some cases one source is better suited to predicting one aspect of the weather (either temperature, wind or precipitation) but not another. That is why notes are added where that should be taken into account.
Macro-example: Velebit mountain
For planning a climbing trip, we often need a weather forecast for a mountainous region, for example Velebit. Velebit is part of Dinaric Alps mountain range and raises straight from the Croatian Adriatic coastline forming a natural barrier, a high wall between the continental and marine parts of Croatia. As such it presents quite a challenge for general weather forecasts to accurately predict weather for. By 'general weather forecasts' I mean the most basic, easiest to understand form aimed at a very broad public. Because of this it is often necessary to resort to specific numerical models to fill in the gaps where we know from experience that such weather forecasts are not reliable.
Micro-example: Paklenica National Park
One such typical area is Paklenica National Park on the south of Velebit mountain. Paklenica Gorge is a very attractive climbing location but at times it can be relatively complex to make even a short term weather prediction for. Bordering between so different terrains that it is often sunny and dry on a cliff closer to the sea while a storm rages on cliffs just a tiny bit further up the gorge. Imagine it as Patagonia on a much smaller scale. Yes, Slovenian top alpinists were much aware of this when we found them in Paklenica one winter training before their trip to Patagonia. The weather was just as horrible as they would expect to encounter later on their expedition. The routes they climbed in Anića kuk in freezing bura wind and rain (routes like Funkcija – F6c+) seemed almost mad to us as we were beginner climbers having just arrived when the weather was calming down and promissing a perfect climbing weekend. They however were just preparing to leave, satisfied that they have made good use of the worst possible weather they could find relatively near by. :-)
Weather changes are often abrupt and dramatic
The temporal variability of weather in such areas is just as important to consider. The weather in Paklenica and on some other popular climbing locations in Croatia can change many times during the same day. Accurately predicting for instance a couple of hours long showers or just as short good weather windows for a particular location on a given day is more complex than just reading a weather forecast. But with good resources and some experience it is possible. More about weather and climate in Paklenica as well as most everything else about Paklenica that visiting climbers should know before they arrive you can find on a dedicated page.
Micro-example: Klek mountain
Similar weather character also acompanies some other Croatian popular climbing locations like Klek mountain in Gorski kotar. Using some slight imagination the nature of weather on Klek mountain can be compared to that of Eiger's North Face. If for no other reason then for readily hosting local storms that only affect Klek even at times when every inch of the rest of Croatia is just basking in the sun.
Limitations and the alternatives
So, after this rather lengthy introduction here is the list of the resources I most often use while planning a climbing trip somewhere in Croatia. One last piece of advice: use any and all of this with caution – study the legends and in-depth descriptions to actually gain understanding of a model before you try to interpret its results. Most of us are not professional meteorologists so we could be wrong about which results to trust out of which model for a particular location at a given term. What I suggest is trying to find at least two different models in good agreement with each other before trusting them to any extent. As an alternative, there is commercially available custom weather forecasting by the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service (which is not limited to Croatia). I have personally used their professional expertise with a high degree of confidence for Alpine winter climbing micro-locations where my life literally depended on it. And thank you for that Ivana Stiperski, you rule!
Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service (CMHS)
In Croatian language: Državni hidrometeorološki zavod (DHMZ).
ALADIN/HR 3-day maps (refresh every 6 hours)
ALADIN/HR simple 3-day meteograms for some climbing-related locations plus some extra for hikers and travellers:
ALADIN/HR more detailed 3-day meteograms for Adriatic (many locations are close to but not on the land which affects the usefulness of the product to climbers)
The web interface available only in Croatian language.
Interactive map with real-time data (choose the data to be shown, zoom in/out on an area, choose the location)
An anormous source of numerical model results (focused on the custom WRF-ARW model).
Weather forecasting with a twist. Quite reliable.
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