Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus), with an area of 24,100 square kilometres (9,305 sq mi). It is situated between 38° 51′ and 41° 18′ latitude north (respectively Isola del Toro and Isola La Presa) and 8° 8′ and 9° 50′ east longitude (respectively Capo dell’Argentiera and Capo Comino). To the west of Sardinia is the Sea of Sardinia, a unit of the Mediterranean Sea; to Sardinia’s east is the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is also an element of the Mediterranean Sea.
Lake Omodeo, the largest reservoir in Sardinia and in Italy
The nearest land masses are (clockwise from north) the island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia, the Balearic Islands, and Provence. The Tyrrhenian Sea portion of the Mediterranean Sea is directly to the east of Sardinia between the Sardinian east coast and the west coast of the Italian mainland peninsula. The Strait of Bonifacio is directly north of Sardinia and separates Sardinia from the French island of Corsica.
The coasts of Sardinia [1,849 kilometres (1,149 miles) long] are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, rias, many inlets and with various smaller islands off the coast.
The island has an ancient geoformation and, unlike Sicily and mainland Italy, is not earthquake-prone. Its rocks date in fact from the Palaeozoic Era (up to 500 million years old). Due to long erosion processes, the island’s highlands, formed of granite, schist, trachyte, basalt (called jaras or gollei), sandstone and dolomite limestone (called tonneri or “heels”), average at between 300 to 1,000 metres (984 to 3,281 feet). The highest peak is Punta La Marmora (Perdas Carpìas in Sardinian language)(1,834 m (6,017 ft)), part of the Gennargentu Ranges in the centre of the island. Other mountain chains are Monte Limbara (1,362 m (4,469 ft)) in the northeast, the Chain of Marghine and Goceano (1,259 m (4,131 ft)) running crosswise for 40 kilometres (25 miles) towards the north, the Monte Albo (1,057 m (3,468 ft)), the Sette Fratelli Range in the southeast, and the Sulcis Mountains and the Monte Linas (1,236 m (4,055 ft)). The island’s ranges and plateaux are separated by wide alluvial valleys and flatlands, the main ones being the Campidano in the southwest between Oristano and Cagliari and the Nurra in the northwest.
Sardinia has few major rivers, the largest being the Tirso, 151 km (94 mi) long, which flows into the Sea of Sardinia, the Coghinas (115 km) and the Flumendosa (127 km). There are 54 artificial lakes and dams that supply water and electricity. The main ones are Lake Omodeo and Lake Coghinas. The only natural freshwater lake is Lago di Baratz. A number of large, shallow, salt-water lagoons and pools are located along the 1,850 km (1,150 mi) coastline.
Sardinia average rainfalls
The climate of the island is variable from area to area, due to several factors including the extension in latitude and the elevation. It can be classified in two different macrobioclimates (Mediterranean pluviseasonal oceanic and Temperate oceanic), one macrobioclimatic variant, called Submediterranean, and four classes of continentality (from weak semihyperoceanic to weak semicontinental), eight thermotypic horizons (from lower thermomediterranean to upper supratemperate) and seven ombrotypic horizons (from lower dry to lower hyperhumid), resulting in a combination of 43 different isobioclimates.
During the year there is a major concentration of rainfall in the winter and autumn, some heavy showers in the spring and snowfalls in the highlands. The average temperature is between 11 to 17 °C (52 to 63 °F), with mild winters and warm summers on the coasts (9 to 11 °C (48 to 52 °F) in January, 23 to 26 °C (73 to 79 °F) in July), and cold winters and cool summers on the mountains (−2 to 4 °C (28 to 39 °F) in January, 16 to 20 °C (61 to 68 °F) in July).
Rainfall has a Mediterranean distribution all over the island, with almost totally rainless summers and wet autumns, winters and springs. However, in summer, the rare rainfalls can be characterized by short but severe thunderstorms, which can cause flash floods. The climate is also heavily influenced by the vicinity of the Gulf of Genoa (barometric low) and the relative proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. Low pressures in autumn can generate the formation of the so-called Medicanes, extratropical cyclones which affect the Mediterranean basin. In 2013, the island was hit by several cyclones, included the Cyclone Cleopatra, which dumped almost 18 inches (450 mm) of rainfall within an hour and a half. Sardinia being relatively large and hilly, weather is not uniform; in particular the East is drier, but paradoxically it suffers the worst rainstorms: in autumn 2009, it rained more than 200 mm (7.9 in) in a single day in Siniscola, and 19 November 2013, locations in Sardinia were reported to have received more than 431 mm (17 inches) within two hours. The western coast has a higher distribution of rainfalls even for modest elevations (for instance Iglesias, elevation 200 m (656 ft), average annual precipitation 815 mm (32.1 in)). The driest part of the island is the coast of Cagliari gulf, with less than 450 mm (17.7 in) per year, the minimum is at Capo Carbonara at the extreme south-east of the island 381 mm (15.0 in), and the wettest is the top of the Gennargentu mountain with almost 1,500 mm (59.1 in) per year. The average for the entire island is about 800 mm (31.5 in) per year, which is more than enough for the needs of the population and vegetation. The Mistral from the northwest is the dominant wind on and off throughout the year, though it is most prevalent in winter and spring. It can blow quite strongly, but it is usually dry and cool.