Georgia's climate is affected by subtropical influences from the west and mediterranean influences from the east. The Greater Caucasus range moderates local climate by serving as a barrier against cold air from the north. Warm, moist air from the Black Sea moves easily into the coastal lowlands from the west. Climatic zones are determined by distance from the Black Sea and by altitude. Along the Black Sea coast, from Abkhazia to the Turkish border, and in the region known as the Kolkhida Lowlands inland from the coast, the dominant subtropical climate features high humidity and heavy precipitation (1,000 to 2,000 millimeters per year; the Black Sea port of Batumi receives 2,500 millimeters per year). Several varieties of palm trees grow in these regions, where the midwinter average temperature is 5° C and the midsummer average is 22° C.
The plains of eastern Georgia are shielded from the influence of the Black Sea by mountains that provide a more continental climate. Summer temperatures average 20° C to 24° C, winter temperatures 2° C to 4° C. Humidity is lower, and rainfall averages 500 to 800 millimeters per year. Alpine and highland regions in the east and west, as well as a semiarid region on the Iori Plateau to the southeast, have distinct microclimates.
At higher elevations, precipitation is sometimes twice as heavy as in the eastern plains. In the west, the climate is subtropical to about 650 meters; above that altitude (and to the north and east) is a band of moist and moderately warm weather, then a band of cool and wet conditions. Alpine conditions begin at about 2,100 meters, and above 3,600 meters snow and ice are present year-round.
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