Changeable weather

July 6th, 2016 Sections: Climate
I looked for a similar graphic for Kyrgyzstan ... but came up blank

I looked for a similar graphic for Kyrgyzstan … but came up blank

I am a Brit and that means that I am used to changeable weather.

It’s one of the features of our climate … being an island lying between a large land mass to the East and the ocean to the West, it’s the scene of a constant between diverse air streams, each with their own characteristics.  From the West come the maritime influences that help to shape our climate – bringing moisture and moderate temperatures, whilst the continental ones from the East bring dry and extreme influences.

The biggest influence on our climate is, of course, the Gulf Stream which brings warm waters and air from the Gulf of Mexico, up and across the North Atlantic … but colliding with colder waters and air streams, from the Polar and Arctic regions, forms large and powerful frontal depressions in the Mid-Atlantic zone, that then pass across and into Europe, and which dominate the British climate.

This continuous conflict between different airmasses, helps to create the temperate climate that keep winters relatively mild and – most of the time – prevents excessively not summers developing … but creating a capricious, erratic, fickle, fluid, mercurial, temperamental, uncertain, unpredictable, unreliable, unsettled, unsteady, vacillating, variable, volatile, wavering, and even whimsical pattern of weather conditions, that changes from day to day – both between different regions and also within different regions of the country.

Consequently it is very difficult to predict or forecast the weather and makes the weather the favourite topic of conversation whenever two Brits meet …

On the other hand, there’s a saying that, in Kyrgyzstan, ‘it is possible to experience four seasons in one day‘.

Weather CloudWhereas Britain enjoys what is called a Temperate Climate, (thanks, largely, to that maritime influence), Kyrgyzstan has one that is classified as Continental. with cold winters and hot dry summers.

Its position in the center of the Eurasian landmass means that it is about as far from any large body of water which would be able to modify and influence the weather patterns it experiences.

On the other hand, the country’s climate is greatly influenced by its mountains. … that help to create significant local variations … which can be almost identified as local microclimates -influenced as much by altitude and landscape as other factors.

For example, the temperature gradient that follows the altitude profile of the landscape means that the ambient temperatures experienced by two places, just a short distance apart – on the map – may be quite different.  Lower altitudes experiencing stifling temperatures, whilst at the greater altitudes, offer a fresher, more bracing, more exhilarating, experience.

The mountains also act as a barrier to the cold dry polar air that blows across the steppes from the North … and thus helping to shield the Southern regions which thus experience much warmer temperatures, all year round.

The narrow valleys with steep sides that lacerate the slopes – some orientated from North to South, and others East to West – can also mean that different regions – even those neighbouring one another … can be exposed to considerable differences in the amount of sunlight experienced from just a few hours a day to double or triple that … and that’s not just a question of luminosity – light – but also the warmth that builds up as the sun’s rays bathe the land, and the vegetation.

It’s quite noticable, for example that as onoe passes over the Dolon Pass on the main road between Bishkek and Naryn, you pass from one micro-climate zone to another … the weather on the Northern side of the pass can be significantly different from that experienced on the Southern side.

Hence, it used to be said that, as you travelled around the country you could experience a variety of differ weather patterns and experience all four seasons in one day.


Recently, however, we have seen a different aspect to this phrase … without needing to travel at all, the weather pattern can change dramatically within the space of a few hours …

Over the weekend, for example, I was in Naryn.  Max wanted to visit the Zaprovednik, (national park) about fifty kilometers to the East of the city, which is home to a project safeguarding the Maral Deer of the region.  Now, although for most purposes, fifty kilometers is not far … if we passed into and over a mountain range, then it might well have a significant effect on the weather patterns experienced.  However, the road follows the valley of the Naryn River … until you actually approach the park itself, the altitude does not change noticeably and the landscape is fairly open and uniform,

As we left Naryn, I looked at the skies, which were clear, and decided that it didn’t look like we were in for a turn in the weather.  As it getting late in the afternoon, however, I decided to take a windjammer jacket … just in case it turned chilly as evening drew on.

We arrived and were busy taking photos of the deer when I realized that it was a good job I had brought the jacket, because it was, indeed getting chilly.  It was also getting quite dark … but it was too early, really, for sunset … and then I realized … in the space of about an hour, the skies had clouded over and raindrops started to fall.

That wouldn’t normally be a problem … I am Brit and used to changeable weather … used to a little rain … but, suddenly, this wasn’t ‘a little rain’ … it rapidly progressed (and by rapidly, I mean within the space of about a minute) into a downpour … and then, realizing that I could feel the individual raindrops as they hit my scalp, I understood that this was not just rain … it was hail.  Fortunately, the hailstones were not particularly large, but they fell with sufficient force to be quite painful.  The also melted very quickly and my clothes felt as if I fallen into – and then climbed out of – a swimming pool.

Running back to the car, I sat and shivered … and waited for Max (who wasn’t going to let a few hailstones from stopping him from trying to catch some atmospheric shots) and suddenly, the sun was shining again … producing a grand rainbow … the temperature rose … and some fellow travellers who were visiting the park insisted that I take some medicine … and, as they were doctors celebrating their professional holiday, how could refuse … even if the medication they prescribed was vodka.


Then, yesterday, was a Public holiday – Orozo Ait – the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.  The Namaz prayers said at dawn were held in Park Pobeda … the central square being closed for renovations … but spirits were somewhat dampened by the rain that fell.  Still, within a short while, the showers were over and the sun shone.

At one point I left the hotel and went to sit in the garden … the sun shone brightly, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I could feel the power of the sun’s rays warming me.  I went back into the office and within an hour went outside one more … and what a difference … the skies were no longer blue, but grey with menacing storm clouds … a fierce and bitterly cold wind had blown up and raindrops started to fall.

All, seemingly, arriving out of nowhere.

Then, within another hour … the wind had died down … the temperature had risen, (not much, but enough to take the bite out of the cold), and the evening sun was peering through gaps in the clouds.


I was reminded of the old sayings … “in Kyrgyzstan, it is possible to experience four seasons in one day” … so Don’t take anything for granted … and Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.




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