Cookies disclaimer

I agree Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to deliver better content and for statistical purposes. You can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing our website without changing the browser settings you grant us permission to store that information on your device.

How to prepare for the weather in Tatra Mountains

Hints Feb. 18, 2018, 4:41 p.m. Slovakia Poland Low Tatra Tatra Mountains High Tatras Western Tatras 2018 Hints
Sunrise in the mountains
By Joanna Dabrowska
Avatar
Joanna Dabrowska
Nickname: Little Bee
Song that expresses me
What to change in the world?
Everything
Favorite activity
Mountain hiking
What drives you to create this blog?
Self-fulfilment
Wish trip
Norwegian Fjords
Coolest person ever existed?

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.

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


Altitude differences

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


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 uneasy route from Rysy during quite heavy rain. Rocks and ladders were very slippery.

Probability

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. 10C 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.

Advice

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.

Probability

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 easy to lost orientation or overlooked the trail signs this combined with snow covering the path you walk is a very dangerous mixture.

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 take 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

Occurrence

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).

Risks 

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 maybe more slippery and creates 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: lawiny.topr.pl
  • 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 absolutly don't recommend hiking in risk of avalanche

Here are the items available on amazon that you may find useful for snowy hikes:

We take 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 take 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 extream 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 take 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

    Because of that expect of losing a lot of body warm on the exposed peaks and ridges.

    • 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

    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:

    meteoblue.com

    accuweather.com

    mountain-forecast.com

    OK, now another link, not connected with 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 - this website also shows time of walking, altitude difference and informs about trail closures. It's very very helpful, this one.

    Ufff, that took me quite a lot of time

    Now it’s your turn – we create this place together. It would be great if we stayed in touch. There are a few options:

    • If you liked this post, please share it with your friends.
    • Please leave a comment. It takes only a moment, but it’s an important hint for us.
    • Like our Facebook fanpage, you will keep track of our hiking trips.
    • Follow our Instagram account where you will find some nice mountainscape shoots.
    • Subscribe to our newsletter – news will come straight to your mailbox.

    Our blog contains booking.com affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you book your stay with such link. This comes at no additional cost to you, and helps to support this website in its goal to create quality content.

    Subscribe to get our Annual Tatras CheatSheet!
    Tatra infographic
    Haven't found what you were looking for?

    No worries! Submit here your question and we will get back to you.


    Cheatsheet Tatra Poland hiking small

    Follow Us