The climate in Austria
Austria's climate is generally referred to as a central-European transition climate. Austria's east is influenced by a continental climate, whereas the western part of the country is rather influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, there are climate differences between the alpine north side, where a moderate climate prevails, and the alpine south side, where we have considerable influences of the Mediterranean.
The climate in the Austria's east is indicated as a continental or pannonian climate. It is characterized by a hot, dry summer and a cold and equally dry winter. Seasonal temperature differences are big and transition seasons are relatively short-lived. Also diurnal temperature differences are often big, given that missing cloudiness causes strong insolation during the day and subsequent strong emission during night. All these effects are explained by the absence of the ocean's influence. Oceans act as a heat reservoir and lead to higher air humidity. The far away from the ocean, the more continental gets the climate.
On the other hand, the western part of Austria is influenced by a so-called maritime climate. Seasonal temperature differences are damped due to the heat capacity of the oceans. Another key factor has an important impact on the climate, especially in northern Europe: the Gulf Stream. It is a warm water current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the European Atlantic coast. That's why Austria has a higher annual mean temperature compared to Quebec in Canada, which is located at the same latitude.
Great lakes also have a small heat storage effect similar to that one of the ocean. For example, the Lake of Constance makes it possible that banana plants grow in Bregenz.
The climate in Austria's south is affected by the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by wet, mild winters and dry, hot summers. Southern states of Austria have a mixed climate with continental, Mediterranean and alpine influences.
The Alps act as a blockade for predominant air currents. Humid air masses are forced to ascend due to the Alps, so that large amounts of precipitation may occur in these ascending regions. Moreover, the topography of the Prealps brings forward the formation of heavy thunderstorms.
Inner-Alpine climate differs from one place to another. Inner-Alpine dry valleys are surrounded and protected by mountains, so that hardly any precipitation occurs. Foehn valleys often have foehn in combination with typical weather situations, for example the Wipptal south of Innsbruck, where foehn is blowing on 20% of all the days during a year.