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Weather in Tatra Mountains - how to stay safe?

Sunrise in the mountains
By Joanna Dabrowska

By Joanna
(Contact Me)

Hints Sept. 19, 2019 Poland Slovakia Low Tatra Tatra Mountains High Tatras Western Tatras 2019 Hints

When it comes to the mountains, it's actually a crucial factor which we have to take into consideration when planning our trip.

So, one of the most important things which we need to keep in mind when we visit Tatra mountains is their unpredictable weather – it can change in the blink of an eye.

Especially High Tatras weather can be very capricious and winter may start there in September.

Tatra highlanders say that they have 10 months of winter, the rest of the year is summer.

This is, of course, an exaggeration and there are many days when the sun is shining like crazy and the views take your breath away. But still, it’s crucial to come prepared, as the weather in the mountains tends to be capricious.

In this article you gain following knowledge

cloudy day in tatra mountains

Panorama of Tatra range © Kazick / Adobe Stock

What are daily average temperatures in Tatra mountains?

On the graphic below there are average min and max of daily temperatures in the given month for Tatra mountains.

Note that these are for Morskie Oko located in the heart of the mountains and on the altitude of 4612 ft (1406m).

Average temperatures in months for tatra mountains

What does average max and min actually say to us?

avg min temp

Every day in a given month the lowest temperature measurement is recorded. Then all records are used to calculate the average min temperature of the month. The amplitude is around 15 degree so we may expect the coldest temp in the coldest day in a given month could be 21 F and least cold temperature in one day would be around 41 F. (the coldest time of a day happens usually in the middle of the night)

avg max temp

Same way with the max temperature. The highest temperature measurement is recorded for every day. Then all records are used to calculate the average max temperature of the month. The amplitude is around 15 degree so we may expect the hottest temp in the hottest day in a given month could be 67 F and least hot temperature in one day would be around 37 F. (hottest time of a day happens usually in the middle of the daytime)

Altitude difference

Higher we climb colder there is. Also, the wind is getting stronger which can cause sudden body temperature loss. 

temperature difference in tatra altitude

With altitude changes, your cloth layers have to adopt as well.

  • Have multilayer clothing
  • Try to change your clothes before you are too cold or too warm
  • Even though it may seem ridiculous to take warm clothes on a hot day you should always have a backup
  • Softshells and zip fleece is what we usually use

Note: Sometimes during summertime inversion happens 🙃

Here are some of the most usual weather caprices which you can expect when hiking in Tatra National Park:

Rain in Tatra mountains

In the video, we are descending on the difficult route from Rysy during quite heavy rain. Rocks and ladders were very slippery.


Rain is most common during warmer months May, June, July and August and they all have on average 50% more days with rain. The rainy conditions may be very uncomfortable and dangerous when happens together with strong wind - usually on mountain rigs and peaks.

But in most of the days, the rain occurs early afternoon or later and in the evening. Usually rains very intensively for a short period of time 30 minutes to a few hours. In hot days it's accompanied with thunderstorms.

For Morskie Oko (basically the middle of the Tatras) the weather measurements show most day with rain has June with number 22 The lease rainy month is November but it has far lower temperatures on avg. 10ºC colder than summertime. It has only 8.5 rainy days plus 6 snowfalls on average in November.

The best month for hiking near Zakopane is October having only 11 rainy days and 10.5 days with clouds covering sky less than 80%.

The second best is a bit warmer and with longer daytime, the September. It has on average 7 sunny days and 16 days with rain episode.

Note: By rainy day I mean a day with any rain. Even day with 30 minutes of rain still counts as rainy here.


What to keep in mind?

  • Make sure you have a dry place for your electronics in case of heavy rain
  • If the weather is uncertain plan routes near shelter huts
  • Take rain poncho with you even though the weather forecast looks good
  • In higher parts, the rain will slow down your walking speed because extra attention is needed for slippery rocks
  • In summer you may decide to start your hike very early for less chance of the rain
  • It's nice to have warm tea on rainy days
  • Rain in the morning doesn't necessarily mean it will be that all day. In this climate, weather changes usually multiple times during the day
  • Good hiking shoes. I wear Lowa boots and I wrote about them here

Here are the items available on amazon that you may find useful during the rain:

We take a tiny commission from purchases that enables us to spend more time creating better content free of charge

Fog in the mountains

Fog in the mountains

This very dense fog we encountered many times.


More often in months September, October, November, December.

In the mountains, the fog is a very common weather condition. The higher we go the bigger chance we have to encounter thick clouds of moist.

Reading reports of TOPR Tatra Volunteer Rescue Unit I can conclude the fog is one of the most often reasons hikers are getting lost. It is just easy to lose orientation and miss the route signs. When we combine fog with the snow it becomes even more dangerous as right now route signs are probably under the snow.

Video showing the fog and low visibility

Video showing Joanna in weather conditions in which is really easy to get lost

Advice for the fog in the mountains

  • Always inform someone exactly where will you be hiking and when do you plan to come back
  • Have a paper map and a good compass with you
  • Take headlight to the backpack
  • Carry in backpack emergency thermal blankets
  • Take a fully charged power bank for your mobile phone
  • Have installed application Ratunek - for Emergency calls integrated with GPS localization

Here are the items available on amazon that you may find useful during the fog and to lower chance of getting lost in general.

We will receive a tiny commission from purchases that enables us to spend more time creating better content free of charge

Hailstorm and thunderstorm in the mountains

Thunderstorm in Tatra mountains

The picture was taken Wielka Polana in Dolinie Małej Łąki (Valley of the little meadow) capturing the lightning strike. © Tomasz Zajda / Adobe Stock

Thunderstorms are very common in the Tatra mountains. The highest number can be observed in June, July and August.

Thunderstorms can be deadly in 2019 a single lighting hit tourists on the Giewont peak in Poland killing 5 people and hospitalizing over 100.

Happen most often in the afternoon and are very dangerous in the mountains. Generally, the best idea is to start off your hike as early as possible in the morning in the summertime.

What to do when thunderstorm catches you suddenly on your hike in Tatra mountains? 

  • Rescue experts say the chance of lightning strike maybe  10 times greater on the exposed rocks in higher parts of the mountain - it is advised to descend as soon as possible to the valleys during the thunderstorm
  • If you hike in a group spread out
  • Keep away from streams, ponds and water sources
  • Stay away from metal infrastructures like antennas, chains or cables
  • Find an unexposed place and sit on your backpack with legs joined together

You can monitor and get alerted about lightings in nearby you with this Apple app:

How to hike in the snow?

Snow storm in Tatra

Picture of the Giewont Peak seen from the Zakopane area during a snowy day. © ambrozinio / Adobe Stock


The snow you can see it on the trail even in June or at the beginning of July (especially in higher parts on the north side of the slopes). Fresh snow may fall in September.

Beware – because of quite big temperature differences, such snow might create a thin layer of ice on the trail. Then, it’s too slippery for regular hiking shoes, but also too thin for crampons. In such conditions, it's better to give up hiking (especially in higher parts).


The deadliest danger in the Tatra mountains are the avalanches. Statistics from years 1909 - 2009 show that 90 people have died in Tatra mountains from that reason.

It is quite difficult to hike in snow as the ground may be more slippery and creates an additional hazard for your health.

Video of hiking in the snow

Difficulties of hiking in the snow. In the video, we hike around Black Pond (Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy) and Kasprowy in sunny clips

Advice for snow hiking

  • Protective clothes I recommend skiing jacket. Our favourite brand is killtec
  • We use GORE-TEX shoe gaiters for keeping your boots dry
  • Always check avalanche alerts:
  • Hiking in snow is much more difficult and takes more time to cover the same distance
  • Ice axe provides additional protection
  • Have detachable shoe spikes
  • Hiking or Walking Sticks with a sharp ending
  • We absolutely don't recommend hiking in the risk of avalanche

Here are the items available on Amazon that you may find useful for hiking in the snow:

We will receive a tiny commission from purchases that enables us to spend more time creating better content free of charge

Ice in the Tatras

Video shows difficulties we had on trying to hike on icy ground.

Ice on the trail forms usually at night from melted snow during the sunny days. It's a very common condition. Sometimes the entire trail may be closed due to dangerous of ice. 

It can also be a party caused by walking. While many hikers steps on the path areas snow will get compressed so much in the time it will form ice.

Ice on the trail is not always visible. Often is hidden under a thin layer of soft snow.

  • Avoid walking on icy trails
  • Be prepared with Ice axe for difficult places 
  • It's always additional protection when wearing crampons
  • Have a hiking helmet to protect your head if you slip

Here are the items available on Amazon that you may find useful for icy hikes:

We will receive a tiny commission from purchases that enables us to spend more time creating better content free of charge

Sun in the mountains

sunny weather and blue sky in tatra mountains

View from the ridge near Kasprowy peak showing the Ticha Valley (Silence Valley) on Slovakia side.

Sun supposed to be weather conditions we all desire for our hikes but there are few things we should be aware of. Sun can be dangerous in Winter and Spring when there is still snow:

  • Sun snow reflection in the valleys can damage our eyes and cause temporary loss of sight
  • Can lead to heatstroke  
  • Can cause extreme sunburns

It's good to:

  • Wear protective sunglasses or goggles
  • Use a sun cream with a high UV filter in summer and winter
  • Avoid exposing yourself to the sun for a longer period of time
  • Wear a hat
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water

  • In case you wonder what gear would we recommend for sunny days:

    We will receive a tiny commission from purchases that enables us to spend more time creating better content free of charge

    Wind in the Tatra mountains

    strong wind Tatra.jpeg

    Extremely strong wind in the picture taken from Hala Gąsienicowa in Tatra mountains © grzegorz_pakula / Adobe Stock

    There are no days without wind in Tatras. The climate of the mountains creates local wind forces even though the areas around the mountains is still.

    The wind speed on the peak of the mountains is usually 50 - 62mi per hour (or 80 - 100 km per hour).

    Video showing strong wind in the mountains

    In such conditions on the exposed peaks and ridges, we lose a lot of body warmth. To prevent it remember to:

    • Limit the time spent on wind-exposed ridges
    • Have wind-protective cloths
    • Check weather forecasts to avoid extream wind conditions
    • The face mask is nice addition for wind protection

    When I was hiking in Tatra National Park, I had a chance to experience several weather “attractions” on one day – fog in the morning, then sun, in the afternoon strong wind which blew rainy clouds. The temperature dropped a lot and in higher parts, it was snowing. Such unstable weather happens especially in the spring and autumn.

    For that reason, it’s essential to have a jacket or raincoat, fleece jumper and good hiking boots.

    Early spring and autumn require additional stuff – beanie, gloves, windproof trousers, thermo-active underwear. In the summer we will need sunscreen and a hat. The sun strength isn’t always so obvious in the mountains, but it’s very easy to get a sunburn.

    Get weather planner for tatra mountains

    Also, make sure to download and print our Weather Guide

     for Tatra mountains. It consists of all helpful information for your trip planning regarding weather conditions and mountain climate: Download it here for free

    Weather phenomena in Tatra mountains - Halny wind (Foehn wind)

    The halny in Tatra mountains - fen wind

    Fen Wind in Tatra mountains © burasek79 / Adobe Stock

    It is usually very strong wind blowing into the valleys dry and warm air. It can be very sudden and cause a lot of infrastructure damage.

    Halny is also influencing the people mood. Because of atmospheric pressure changes rapidly health problem may experience people with cardio-vascular and heart issues.

    Halny also influences the minds, people become nervous and grumpy. Suicide rate rises. Also weird it's reported that animals act strangely during that time.

    Most often occurs in autumn and early spring.

    Wikipedia: Wiatr Halny, Wikipedia: Fen

    You may find useful information about weather conditions on the below pages:

    TOPR – Tatra mountains official website which streams live video from several mountain huts thanks to CCTV system. Unfortunately, the only Polish version of the website is available, but Google will happily translate it for you. 😉

    HZS – life rescue service in Slovakia. There's lots of useful information on their website, but again, English version isn't available.

    Emergency numbers :

    ⇒ TOPR in Poland: 601 100 300

    ⇒ HZS in Slovakia, High Tatra: 0903-624-869

    ⇒ HZS in Slovakia, Western Tatra: 0903-624-066

    Here's a handful of weather websites where you can check actual conditions in Tatra mountains:

    OK, now another link, not connected with the weather, but really good to know if you plan to hike in Polish mountains - mapa-turystyczna.

    It's the most user-friendly online map I know. It will not only help you to choose the route - but this website also shows a time of walking, altitude difference and informs about trail closures. It's very very helpful, this one.
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