Weather and climate in the Kuril Islands | Nota Bene: Eugene Kaspersky's official blog

Rare Kuril sunsets

It is not at all necessary to go to the far north for the tundra. Very similar conditions can be found at quite moderate latitudes. On the Kuriles.

Weather and climate.

“I'll take you to the tundra” – this is how it was sung in a song popular on radio-TV in Soviet times.

As it turned out, going to the extreme north (or to the extreme south, to Tierra del Fuego) is not at all necessary for this. Conditions very similar to the tundra can also be found at quite moderate latitudes. On the Kuriles.

Mother Nature has made a climate mess here. On one side of the islands there is the cold Pacific Ocean, on the other – not just cold, but icy Sea of ​​Okhotsk. If the wind blows from the south, it is warm and humid. If from the north – Siberian, yeah. As a result, it is very cold here in winter, just cold in summer, but always humid – waist-deep snow in winter, fog, drizzle and rain in summer.

They talk about recent years, when the sun appeared five times in summer, no more. Corresponding here and vegetation. Moss, grass, stones, sometimes elfin, in the swamps – huge pink meadows of carnivorous sundew. Trees appear only in the Southern Kuriles – Iturup, Shikotan and Kunashir. There are none to the north, only on Paramushir there were some semi-shrub thickets. They say that trees also grow on Urup, but I did not see them there.

In short, the harsh northern climate.

Wikipedia says eloquently about this: “Climate. The Kuril Islands belong to the regions of the Far North. And this is at 45°-50° north latitude. This is south of Novosibirsk, Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin and London. This is at those latitudes where there are such cities as: Harbin, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Donetsk, Chisinau, Vienna, Milan, Munich, Paris, Ottawa, Vancouver and Seattle. That's how it goes, yeah…

“We have good weather, but the climate is harsh,” say the locals.

“You will know the weather for tomorrow the day after tomorrow,” they add.

“A hundred grams before dinner is not only useful, but also not enough,” – this is already when we were wet, chilled and none returned to the ship.

“Drunkenness – fight! Before the fight you need to drink, ”- from the same sources.

An entry in the travel diary: “on the seventh day of the expedition we saw the SUNSET” (so it says in capital letters: “SUNSET”).

Rare Kuril sunsets

Rare Kuril sunsets

Rare Kuril sunsets

By tundra by rail wet grass, swamps, through the elfin in the rain, in fogs and sometimes under a strong wind, we moved around the islands of Paramushir, Onekotan, Matua, Rasshua.

Most of all I remember climbing the Ebeko volcano in Paramushir.

At the top of the volcano, we were flooded with rain and blown away by squalls of wind … The views there, obviously, are absolutely fantastic, it was felt by the scale of the volcano, but neither the eyes nor the photo optics captured almost anything. But it was the very first day on the islands and we immediately understood everything about our trip.

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

Climbing Mount Ebeko

In the south of Paramushir there are still curious ruins of an old lighthouse.The local people complain that the state does not allocate anything for support. But, on the other hand, the lighthouses on the coast have retired. All marine vessels have long been equipped with satellite navigators and autopilots (yes!). Alas, the old and sometimes very beautiful lighthouses serve either as a decoration for the landscape and luring tourists, or they are abandoned and slowly rot …

Lighthouse on Paramushir

Lighthouse on Paramushir

Matua is a Japanese military base during the Second World War, which was inherited by the Soviet military base of the second half of the 20th century. Now the island is uninhabited, the bases are non-residential, they stand as a monument to an attempt to colonize the Kuril Islands. For some reason, there are a lot of barrels, a lot!

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

Matua Island

I remember the trip around the local hills Serp and Molot (these are the names of these two hills 🙂 I was promised a simple walk, just to walk around, look, take pictures. “You can walk along the old road along the lake,” the guides said something like this. As a result, it turned out that they themselves were there for the first time, the road is only on the map, and we had to stomp 10 km through the elfin forest, through grass taller than human height, through ravines, rivers and swamps, and all this in endless rain. Well, yes, this is how the “day of rest” turned out. Rather, this is such a “road of death” – I thought then – “the aesthetics of decay and depression.”

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Rasshua Island

Then it got easier.

Even the sun began to appear occasionally. Usually hours in 2 days, not for long. Then again gloom and drizzle. Sometimes it was sunny for a third or even half of the day. Once they broke through the clouds while climbing Atsonupuri (but this is already on the “southern” Iturup). But we had a really clean sunny morning only once on Harimkotan! Once!!

Harimkotan

Sunny morning on Harimkotan

Sunny morning on Harimkotan

Sunny morning on Harimkotan

But even here in the second half of the day it frowned and a fine rain began to fall towards the sunset.

Harimkotan

Harimkotan

Harimkotan

And on Harimkotan, in addition to visiting the abandoned village and the nearby harsh beauties, those who wished to take up eating berries (and there were even a lot of them!) And searching for glass Japanese floats. Floats are a separate song.

Before the invention of floats in sea fishing nets, the Japanese used either wood (where available) or hollow glass as floats. Many of the floats remained in the sea-ocean, they, unlike wood, do not rot, they still float somewhere and are periodically thrown ashore.

It turned out that there are collectors in the world who desperately collect these floats, maintain catalogs, change-buy-sell those that have collectible value. Moreover, some particularly stubborn retrograde fishermen, despite economic inefficiency, still use them. Oh how!

Japanese glass floats

After listening to stories about them, we also went ashore for artifacts and yes, we found, and even a lot. Alas, nothing of particular collectible value fell into our hands.

Japanese glass floats

All other mornings were about the same. Gloomy, fog, the ship in the roadstead seemed to be under a white cap – sometimes even the coast was not visible. Then the outfit in all waterproof, landing in a motorboat and on the next island. And along the way, the ship disappeared in the fog.And around white silence – visibility 100-200 meters, and only the splash of waves and the roar of the engine.

Omnipresent Kuril fog

That's why it's deserted here. The population of the islands is only about 20 thousand people, many islands are uninhabited, you don’t have beaches, palm trees, mulattos and pina coladas! And this is at the latitude of warm and sunny Croatia! There are also few settlements, three of them with a large interference have the status of a city: Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir, 2.5 thousand people), Kurilsk (Iturup, 1750 people) and, as you might guess, Yuzhno-Kurilsk (Kunashir, 7 thousand people).

What is nice is that houses and hospitals are being repaired, roads are slowly covered with concrete or asphalt, people live pleasant and optimistic. Others obviously don't survive here.

Yuzhno-Kurilsk

Yuzhno-Kurilsk

Yuzhno-Kurilsk

Re

Severo-Kurilsk is infamous for the 1952 tsunami. The triple wave destroyed the city, killing more than 2 thousand people (out of 6 thousand living). An unknown number of soldiers in coastal units also died. The fact of the tragedy was strictly classified in Soviet times. The city was then rebuilt at a safe distance from the sea, and the site of the old city is now abandoned, the streets are marshy. The port remained in its old place, the sight is also depressing.

North Kuril port

And as a final positive, here's what.

As the locals told us, we were very lucky with the weather. Everything could have been much worse, a couple of weeks before us there was such a typhoon in general that the sea would have been shaken by rolling, and washed away by water on the ground. Like this.