For all the panic over hotel bookings, fussing over restaurants, researching of landmarks and hiring of cars, the single factor most likely to make or break a holiday is the one no one can control: the weather. Like anywhere in the world, tourists in Slovakia will always be at the mercy of climactic uncertainty and it might rain in August when you have a camping trip planned, while it could be warm and sunny in January when you desperately want to ski.
But to give you a general guide to what you can expect from the elements on your visit to the country, Spectacular Slovakia enlisted the help of Jozef Pecho at the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, who emerged from beneath a mountain of charts and database printouts to provide a list of definitive facts about Slovak weather.
- The coldest month is January; the warmest is July.
- The warmest region is the Danube lowlands with an average temperature in July of 20-21°C (68-69.8°F) and a January average of -2° to -1°C (28.4-30.2°F).
- The coldest region is in the High Tatras, where the yearly average is -3.9°C (25°F) (in February -11.3°C (11.7°F) rising to 3.6°C (38.5°F) in August)
- The highest temperature in Slovakia occurred in Hurbanovo on July 20, 2007, recorded at 40.3°C (104.54°F).
- The lowest occurred on February 11, 1929, when temperatures fell to -41°C (-41.8°F) in Vígľaš-Pstruša.
- Winter (when the average daily temperature is less than 0°C (32°F)) varies slightly in length in the different regions of the country, but typically runs from mid-December to mid-February in the lowlands; from late November to mid-March in the Poprad basin and from early November to late May in the High and Low Tatras.
- A "summer day" is defined as a day on which temperatures exceed 25°C (77°F). At low altitude, there are usually more than 50 summer days per year (Hurbanovo has 74, Lučenec 78, Sliač 68, Trebišov 68). Temperatures do not typically reach this level at altitudes of more than 1,000 metres (3281ft).
- In Bratislava, there are an average of 90 days per year when the temperature falls below 0°C (32°F). But in the Danube lowlands, there are closer to 100 such days; more than 110 in the east Slovak lowlands and more than 160 in the basins at the foot of the Tatras.
- The average yearly rainfall varies from about 520mm (20.47in) in the Palárikovo and Galanta areas, to 2,000mm (78.74in) in the High Tatras.
- The areas of lowest rainfall are in the so-called "rain shadows" of the mountain ranges. Thus the Spiš basin is relatively dry as it is protected from the west by the High Tatras and from the south by Slovenské rudohorie. On average fewer than 600mm (23.62in) of rain falls here per year.
- Rainfall generally increases with altitude at the rate of about 50-60mm (1.97-2.36in) for every 100 metres (328.1ft) of altitude.
- About 40% of the yearly rainfall comes in summer (June to August); 25% in spring; 20% in autumn and 15% in winter.
- The rainiest months are June and July; the driest are January and February.
- The Danube lowlands are among the driest areas, partly because of low rainfall (approximately 550mm (21.65in) per year) but also because of high temperatures and strong winds which aid evaporation.
- The highest rainfall recorded in a single day came on July 12, 1957 when 231.9mm (9.13in) fell in Salka na Ipli during a local storm.