The topographical diversity explains the existence of a range of climates in Auvergne-Rhône Alpes.
While the oceanic climate dominates with regular and moderate rainfall (from 600 to 2000 mm per year), it is heavily influenced by the Massif central barrier, the Mediterranean rises to the south of the region and the mountain climate of the Alps. We can also contrast the latter wet weather with that of the Vivarais or the Drôme, which are typically more Mediterranean.
The corridor formed by the Saône and Rhône valleys is relatively dry, with the Massif Central partially retaining moist air masses prevailing from the west. Although westerly winds are dominant, the Rhône furrow is frequently exposed to a northerly wind known as the Bise (which transforms into a mistral further south), while the Alps and foothills are exposed to the Föhn.
Differences in altitude also explain the great contrasts in landscapes and the distribution of precipitation: the Northern Alps are the largest French high mountain domain – they comprise three quarters of the country’s glaciers and a large majority of precipitation there falls as snow. On the other hand, the south of the region – including the Drôme for example, already considered Mediterranean – experiences few days of frost and less frequent, more concentrated rainfall in autumn.
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