Two important influences on the climate of Sweden are its northern latitude, between 55° and 69°N, and the shelter from milder and wetter Atlantic winds provided by the high mountains and plateaux along the country's western border with Norway; it is bounded on the northeast by Finland.
Most of Sweden has a typical continental climate with a moderate to large temperature range between summer and winter.
The one exception to this is the southwest of the country from Göteborg to Malmö, where winter temperatures are modified by an open ocean which rarely freezes.
The enclosed waters of the Baltic Sea often freeze, in whole or in part, in winter; therefore the east coast of Sweden is much colder, particularly towards the north where the waters of the Gulf of Bothnia freeze each winter.
The high latitude means that much of the country has very long hours of daylight in summer and very long nights in winter. North of the Arctic Circle at 66°N, this amounts to 24 hours of sun and 24 hours of Arctic twilight in midsummer and midwinter respectively.
Precipitation is relatively low except on the higher mountains, and is rather greater in summer than winter. North of Stockholm much of the winter precipitation falls as snow.
Winters become progressively longer and colder towards the north of the country. The average number of days with a mean temperature below freezing point increases from 71 at Malmö to 120 at Stockholm and 184 at Haparanda near the Arctic Circle.
Temperatures are surprisingly similar in midsummer over much of the country. The long summer days help to raise temperatures in the north, so that on fine days temperatures may be as high here as in the south. Because of the generally changeable nature of Swedish summer weather, however, the visitor should not expect fine weather every day. A wet, cool spell in summer in northern Sweden can be rather miserable.
The country can be divided broadly into three climatic regions: central and southern Sweden, the northeast or the low-lying shores of the Gulf of Bothnia, and the northwest or far north.
Central and Southern Sweden
Including (with towns and cities in parentheses) Uppsala Län (Uppsala), Göteborgs och Bohus Län (Göteborg), Stockholms Län (Stockholm), Jönköpings Län (Jönköping), Malmöhus (Helsingborg).
This is the part of the country approximately south of a line from the Oslo fjord to Uppsala on the east coast. Much of this area is low-lying with numerous lakes. It is the most densely populated and agriculturally productive part of the country.
Although the winters are quite cold and shorter than those in the north, the summers are relatively warm. Precipitation is nowhere heavy; most rain falls during summer and early autumn and much of the winter precipitation falls as snow.
In some winters the snow cover may be prolonged and the harbours on the east coast have to be kept clear with icebreakers. Snow falls on an average of sixty days at Stockholm but it does not lie so long on the west coast. Summer temperatures are similar to those experienced in southern England but there are more hours of sunshine than in England. (See the table for Stockholm).
Including (with towns and cities in parentheses) Västernorrlands Län (Sundsvall, Härnösand, Örnsköldsvik), Västerbotten (Skelleftea), Norrbotten (Boden, Pitea, Haparanda).
Here winters are severe and become longer and colder northwards. The short summers are surprisingly warm for the high latitude, near or north of the Arctic Circle.
Precipitation is quite low near the coast but snow may lie on the ground for up to 120 days and this figure increases inland as altitude rises. Summers are sunnier and less cloudy than in the mountains along the Norwegian border. (See the table for Pitea).
The Northwest and Far North
Including (with towns and cities in parentheses) Jämtländ (Östersund), western Vasterbotten and Norrbotten (Gallivare, Kiruna).
This is mostly a plateau of moderate to high elevation. Temperatures are largely controlled by altitude and at the higher levels snow cover persists throughout the year.
In sheltered valleys precipitation may be much less than on the surrounding hills. Here, during fine weather, winter temperatures sink very low while summer temperatures may rise surprisingly high. The greater part of the area, however, has a severe winter climate with short, changeable summers.
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