I want the area I am currently making to have a hot summer climate, but to also some years have a cold winter, including frost and some snow.

I understand that this may affect the fauna, but what are your opinions on the the justification? The area I have is modeled loosely on Southern France.

My thinking is that a southern directed wind can bring drastically lower temperatures, which cause the cooling down on the area and thus the colder winter? Sometimes the winds do not blow from the North, and thus a warmer winter. Would that be sufficient to explain it?

The temperature I am maiming for is about in the 24-30 degrees Celsius in the Summer and about 1 to -5 in Winter, to make the Winter more bitter and harsh.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Adjusting the tilt of the planet would increase the seasonal variation. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like where I live in Wisconsin, except the winters here can get even colder. (That last few days this week have been closer to -20 C.) Though I guess we don't usually have warm winters... ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Ajedi32
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ You are likely looking for the Dxa / Dxb climates of the Köppen climate classification. And as to @Ajedi32 (a fellow wisconsiner) I would point to 2014 with its very cold winter or 2013 with its, well, that was actually a rather warm winter. See aos.wisc.edu/~sco/clim-history/7cities/… $\endgroup$
    – user487
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ Just to add another one to the real-world examples noted so far: in rural Illinois, where you can drive along the highway and see miles upon miles of corn and soy fields, you'll easily get over 100 in the summers and blizzards in the winter. (Not to mention flash deluges: in the summer you have high heat and 99-100% humidity, which means if the temperature drops even a tiny bit, you're over 100% humidity and the laws of physics compel the air to shed water very quickly. You go from blue sky and sunshine to torrential downpour almost instantly, and 5 minutes later it's back to clear.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ As you can see from the answers – just about everybody seems to be living in a climate like that. You need to be a bit more specific with max, min, mid, med temperatures, wind, humidity and precipitation (total, frequency and duration of the latter). $\endgroup$
    – Crissov
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 10:13

6 Answers 6


Other answers and comments mention axial tilt, and I agree that should be part of your thought process. You might also add something akin to the El Nino - La Nina cycles.

On an irregular but roughly seven-year oscillation, Pacific Ocean currents change from relatively warm to relatively cold. With that, unusual weather patterns occur. The effects are observed especially in North America, but can be noticed around the world.

For your story or game, place your world as far/ near the ocean currents as you need, then adjust the amplitude / frequency / regularity of the cycle.

  • $\begingroup$ El Nino and La Nina seem very interesting, thank you for that idea. It is a good story point for my campaign! $\endgroup$
    – Andal
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for El Nino - La Nina, especially as the period can be adjusted easily. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:13

The answers so far are great examples, but they need the keyword continental climate, notably D-something-a in the Köppen classification.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Unlike the other anecdotes, this is actually an appropriate answer, but @MichaelT was able to be more precise in a mere comment. $\endgroup$
    – Crissov
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ Only Da and Ca, because Db would be too cool in summer. Ca is also acceptable since it can go as low as 0 in winter. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 17:20

I live in Ottawa, Canada. It's currently -11C and there's about 4 feet of snow on the ground. Winter lasts about 4-5 months (november - march).

In June, July and August, it's summer and the temperatures here are usually anywhere between +20C and +40C.

Basically, the climate you're describing is completely possible, the 3 big factors are axial tilt of the globe (assuming the planet is a globe and orbits a sun), latitude of the area in question and altitude (or rather how high/low the area is from sea level).

If you put the place on the equator, then there won't likely be snow (except high in the mountains) and it will probably always be quite warm. If you put the area on the poles, it will be a frozen glacier year round basically.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice to run into another Ottawa survivor :P +17 and enjoying a Corona in the back yard Christmas Eve to -24 two weeks later. Been a heck of an odd winter so far! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I can just hear Walter saying "we love it here!" ... youtube.com/watch?v=qcAq6fRADzI $\endgroup$
    – user11864
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 17:12

I live in central Utah, which is a desert. Here the temperature varies from 110F in the summer to 0F in the winter. (These are the hottest and coldest times of the year and of the day.) I think your situation is probably just as plausible. If this planet isn't earth you could increase the planet's tilt, and that would make seasons more extreme.

  • $\begingroup$ I personally think this would make a better answer if you edit it to describe the conditions that lead to these temperature swings throughout the year. That way, those conditions can be recreated in an artificial world, where central Utah does not exist. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't really matter that much at this point. There are better answers than mine. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 14:22

I live in northern Italy. Temperatures in winter can easily drop below -5°C for days on hand, and they're usually 35°C or more in the summer.

95% humidity doesn't help either.

If you're looking for something a bit more extreme, check out the area of Croatia between Rijeka and Zagreb. (follow the highway.)

In the summer temperatures are 35° as well (try being stuck in traffic in a black car...), and in the winter it drops to -25.


Canberra in Australia has that, summer maximums of 30-35 and winter minimums of 0 to -5. There are frosts daily during winter, and very occasional snow.

Key ingredients:

A long way from the ocean - oceans act to moderate temperatures.

Surrounded by mountains on the north, east and west (Southern hemisphere) or South, east and west (Northern Hemisphere). These mountains, assuming the location is far from the equator, will block a greater % of the sunlight in winter than summer, because the sun is lower in the sky.

I think if you moved the entire of Australia South, such that Canberra lined up with where Hobart is now, and removed the man made lake, you would get extremely similar results to what you want.


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