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
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.
NAMIBIA - WEATHER:
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
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)