Climate at Lake Baikal
Though the very northern extremity of Lake Baikal lies at the same latitude as Moscow the climate here is much more severe then in European part of Russia. The climate of Eastern Siberia is one of the most continental on the Earth with the great seasonal and day-to-night changes.
The frost free period lasts from 75 to 82 days only. The amount of precipitation in various parts of the lake is different. Largely they fall in the southern extremity of Baikal. Warm air masses coming from the south-west abruptly become cold over the Baikal’s surface and yield precipitations of 495 mm (19.5 in) at the very southern part of the lake near the city of Baikalsk. The significant portion of annual precipitations falls during the warm season. Irkutsk has 458 mm of precipitations per year.
Winters here are extremely cold. Irkutsk averages –21 degrees Celsius (-5.8 Fahrenheit) and experiences minimum temperatures as low as –40 Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit).
Summers are short with average temperature +17.5 C, +20 C (+63.5 F, +68 F). Individual days are quite warm so temperature might reach +30, +35 C (+86, +95 F) and stay like this for two or three weeks in mid-July and early August. Few people know that there are more sunny days at Lake Baika than at Russia’s Black Sea resorts. On Baikal the annual amount of sunshine is 2,583 hours while in Sochi at the Black sea it is 2,007 hours.
The warmest month here at the lake is August, not July as anywhere in Siberia. Due to the influence of several processes Baikal possesses some characteristic of sea climate. Baikal acts as a cold source during summer and warm source during fall and early winter before it freezes over in January. The climate of Baikal area is very specific.
There is a significant difference between Lake Baikal climate and the climate of surrounding territories of Eastern Siberia. Thus, the average temperature in Irkutsk in December is –25, -27 C (-13, -16.6 F), on the shores of the lake it is only –12, -17 C (+10.4, +1.4 F). In summer when it may be +25 C (+77 F) and more in Irkutsk, it is only +18, +22 C (+64.4, +72 F) at Baikal. In winter, this difference smoothes down slightly after the lake gets frozen, yet it remains quite noticeable.
Baikal is often called the museum of climates because in various parts of the lake the climate is different which is caused by a greater or a smaller distance from the lake, the shape of the coast line, the relief and the surface of the shores, the steepness of slopes, their orientation to north or south, etc. The year’s seasons are a bit displaced on Baikal. Spring sets in here a month later than on the most territory of Eastern Siberia.
More about typical weather at Lake Baikal during high tourist season.