Does it snow in Barcelona Spain? Barcelona, Spain, is famous for its nice weather and lovely beaches.
You probably imagine sunny days and not-too-hot temperatures when you think of Barcelona.
But, like in many places, people are wondering, “Is there snow in Barcelona Spain?” And when did it last snow in Barcelona? Let’s find out now!
Yes, historically, there has been snow, especially in the surrounding hills, but in the city, it is very rare.
More about Barcelona’s Climate
The Spanish city of Barcelona sits in the lower mid-latitudes on the eastern Mediterranean coast.
The region’s inhabitants enjoy a warm maritime subtropical climate with hot humid summers and short mild winters.
Temperatures fluctuate seasonally but only rarely drop below freezing in the city, although it can feel much colder on its hills and nearby mountains.
Over the period 1991-2020, the average summer temperature was 28oC although lately, temperatures are reaching the mid-thirties.
Here is a bit about the average temperature in Barcelona:
Not only this, you will also find a degree of variation in maximum and minimum temperatures in Barcelona throughout the year.
January and February are the coldest months with average temperatures of 41.9F and 42.8F but not the wettest.
Barcelona doesn’t get a lot of rain, less than 5 days per month.
Most rain days fall between September and November, when even the minimum temperatures hover in the 20s and only dip to 64.4 F by the end of November.
Does It Snow In Barcelona Spain?
Yes, it can snow in Barcelona, and there have been some historical events, but it is not that common.
Although it does not snow very often in Barcelona city, Catalonia, Barcelona’s province has experienced significant snowfalls over the years, over three feet in 1962.
Usually, there has only been a few inches, and if it makes the city, it’s only as a light dusting.
Fact: In 2010, several inches suddenly fell in March, and an emergency was declared.
The Recent Snow Snow
Although snow does not happen often on the Catalonian coast, snow fell overnight in the higher parts of Barcelona as recently as February 2023.
It covered much of the region and other coastal cities such as:
- Tarrogona and Terrassa
- Viladecans inland
It fell in varying amounts with over 7cm in the Catalan Pyrenees but more unusually, it continued to snow across the region for much of the morning.
Other Key Barcelonian Snow Events and Their Impact
Other than the recent snow event, there have been quite a few in history, suggesting that it is quite possible to get snow in Barcelona.
|Two days of snowfall that took the city by surprise.
|Freezing weather all over Spain but only Barcelona got snow. Several days of traffic disruption to city roads that had 20 inches of accumulated snow
|Slow-melting snow impeded movement around the city for two days. Skiing and sledging down Barcelona’s local mountain, Montjuic.
|Less than 2.5 cm (1 inch)
|Airport forced to closed. Particularly heavy windblown flurries created poor visibility.
|Schools closed, all transportation brought to a standstill. Several days of disruption. Thick snow in the upper areas of the city but snow also along the coastline. Worst snow in 25 years.
Why is Snowfall Rather Rare in Barcelona Spain?
Barcelona is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
However, it is only 75 miles from the high mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and mountains form a semi-circle behind the city.
They protect it from cold winds blowing west from the Atlantic and north through Europe from the Arctic.
The protection of mountains and proximity to a warm sea means it is usually too warm and too humid for snow to accumulate.
Other Factors Contributing to Low Snowfall in Barcelona
Three factors contribute to Barcelona’s lack of snow: its location, urban heat and atmospheric temperature.
Barcelona is on a plain hemmed in on its flanks by two major rivers, the Llobregat and Besòs, the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains.
Although on a plain, it is not flat, but covered by hills, most of them heavily populated.
Being almost surrounded by water, the city has an unusual climate even for the Mediterranean.
Fact: It rains more in autumn and spring than in winter and even then, summer storms typically mean more rain falls in June and August than in February.
The Urban Heat Island Effect
Barcelona occupies some 39 square miles of the plain, and it is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.
Its human activity and the materials used in its infrastructures give off a lot of extra heat.
This urban heat island effect can add several degrees to the ambient temperature.
However, the population is not distributed evenly, partly because of the terrain so some areas are warmer than others.
The urban island effect helps keep Barcelona’s winter temperatures above freezing.
Because the mountains block all but the nastiest Atlantic cold weather fronts, it is the surrounding water and high temperatures that tend to influence Barcelona’s weather.
Together they create the humid sub-tropical climate Spain is known for.
In Barcelona the average relative humidity is 69% with an average sea temperature of 78.8F with relative humidity as high as 75% into late autumn in November.
For snow to form, there must be moisture present in a layer of the atmosphere called the dendritic zone, 70% or higher.
The temperature in the layer has to be very low for the crystals to form and stay at or above freezing for a snowflake to make it all the way to the ground.
The Impact of Climate Change
Although Barcelona is protected by mountains and its temperatures moderated by the Mediterranean, there is a suspicion that climate change is already impacting the region.
The March 2010 snowfall was unseasonal. It arrived just as temperatures should have been increasing.
Instead, snow covered most of Catalonia and further afield from Girona in the north, Lleida in the west to Tarragona to the south.
The region usually avoids the worst Atlantic fronts, but this storm developed between the UK and Germany further north with a severe low pressure produced as warm humid air met cold.
Fact: In history, Barcelona has received almost 6 inches of snow, which may be low compared to other regions, but it was enough to affect the entire transport system in Barcelona.
Where Can You Likely Find Snow in Barcelona?
The elevated areas around Barcelona are used to snow.
That is why Spain has several thriving winter ski resorts, such as the Valle de Arán with its hot springs, and the Pineta and Ordesa valleys both in the Sobrarbe region.
There’s even regular snow in the south in the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park near Malaga.
But just two hours out of Barcelona is Pedraforca in the Catalan Pyrenees.
Although close to the city, it is a wilderness that, in winter, hosts many of the traditional snow activities, including:
- Ice diving
- Dog sledding
When Can You Find Snow in Barcelona, Spain?
Even though you would be more likely to see snow in Barcelona city during January and February, there are no guarantees, as no snow fell at all for years.
Historical records reveal that snow can fall as early as the third week in November or as late as the second week in March.
But, as a result of strong winter storms in the Atlantic, they are even rarer.
Fact: Even when snow does fall, it is more likely to be at night and in light flurries and melts a lot faster because of the mild temperatures and constant humidity.
Does it snow in Barcelona Spain? The truth is that there have been some historical events leading to a good amount of snow, but it is rare.
With climate change and global warming, the instances of snow are becoming even rarer in Barcelona.
Nevertheless, there is plenty to see and do when you pay a visit to Barcelona in winter.