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South Africa Weather

South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate, with lovely warm sunny days most of the year.
The seasons of the southern hemisphere are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere so our summers runs from November to February, when most of the country is characterised by hot weather with afternoon thunderstorms. Winters are generally mild and dry. South Africa enjoys one of the world's highest average daily hours of sunshine - 8.5 compared with 3.8 in London, 6.4 in Rome and 6.9 in New York.

South Africa has an average annual rainfall of 464 mm, compared to a world average of 857 mm.
In the Western Cape, the average rainfall is highest in the winter months, while in other provinces, the average rainfall is highest during summer.

South Africa is surrounded by the ocean on three sides – the east, and south. The warm south-flowing Mozambique-Augulhas current and the cold north-flowing Benguela have an important effect on the weather. The contrast in temperature between these two currents partly accounts for important differences in climate and vegetation between the east and west coasts. Durban (east coast) has higher temperatures and rainfall than Lamberts Bay (west coast).

Climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of the country to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. Rainfall generally occurs during summer (November through March), although in the southwest, around Cape Town often occurs in winter (June through August). Temperatures are influenced by variations in elevation, terrain, and ocean currents more than latitude.
Temperature and rainfall patterns vary in response to the movement of a high-pressure belt that circles the globe between 25° and 30° south latitude during the winter and low-pressure systems that occur during summer. There is very little difference in average temperatures from south to north, however, in part because the inland plateau rises slightly in the northeast. For example, the average annual temperature in Cape Town is 17°C, and in Pretoria, 17.5°C, although these cities are separated by almost ten degrees of latitude. Maximum temperatures often exceed 32°C in the summer, and reach 38°C in some areas of the far north. The country's highest recorded temperatures, close to 48°C, have occurred in both the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal).

Frost occurs in high altitudes during the winter months. The coldest temperatures have been recorded about 250 kilometers northeast of Cape Town, where the average annual minimum temperature is -6.1°C. Record snowfalls (almost fifty centimeters) occurred in July 1994 in mountainous areas bordering Lesotho.

Climatic conditions vary noticeably between east and west, largely in response to the warm Agulhas ocean current, which sweeps southward along the Indian Ocean coastline in the east for several months of the year, and the cold Benguela current, which sweeps northward along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the west. Air temperatures in Durban, on the Indian Ocean, average nearly 6°C warmer than temperatures at the same latitude on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The effects of these two currents can be seen even at the narrow peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope, where water temperatures average 4°C higher on the east side than on the west.

Rainfall varies considerably from west to east. In the northwest, annual rainfall often remains below 200 millimeters. Much of the eastern Highveld, in contrast, receives 500 millimeters to 900 millimeters of rainfall per year; occasionally, rainfall there exceeds 2,000 millimeters. A large area of the center of the country receives about 400 millimeters of rain, on average, and there are wide variations closer to the coast. The 400-millimeter "rainfall line" has been significant because land east of the rainfall line is generally suitable for growing crops, and land west of the rainfall line, only for livestock grazing or crop cultivation on irrigated land.


Rainfall occurs exclusively in the summer months, between November and February, when heavy thunderstorms can be expected. Summer is very hot and the Namib Desert should be avoided at this time as temperatures are often above 104ºF (40ºC). The coast is cooler and often foggy. The best time to visit is during the winter months from March to October (April and June are preferable) as days are warm and dry, and wildlife easier to spot as they tend to congregate at waterholes. Nights can be very cold with frost

Namibia's climate is the driest in Africa, with sunny, warm days and cooler nights, especially during the winter months. The average temperature along the coast is the summer is 23°C (73°F); in winter, the average temperature is 13°C (55°F). The fertile northern strip is always warmer, having a climate similar to that of southern Angola.

Much of Namibia is a land of perennial drought. The annual rainfall, which is concentrated in the November–March period, generally averages more than 70 cm (28 in) in the far north, 2.5– 15 cm (1–6 in) in the south, and 35 cm (14 in) in the central plateau. But the rains often fail: some regions have gone nearly a century without a drop of rain.

(Acknowledgement to: Library of Congress & C.I.A World facts)


South Africa Weather Information