Climate of South Africa

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South Africa, which geopolitically resides between the 22nd and 34th degrees south, is part of Southern Hemisphere's subtropical zone. It experiences a wider diversity of climatological changes than most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but also tends to retain lower average temperatures than other countries that reside within this range of latitude. In a simple, straightforward sense the Western Cape province in particular, and the western part of the country has a Mediterranean climate with warm to hot, dry, sunny summer weather and mild, rainy conditions in winter. The pleasant Mediterranean climate of the western coastal regions is an opposing contrast to the climate of the eastern coastal and northeastern interior regions. The eastern coast and northeastern interior experiences a subtropical climate and subtropical highland climate respectively. Both climate types in the two regions share similar characteristics: hot, humid summers with frequent late afternoon thunderstorms from November to March, and a cooler, dry and sunny winter season lasting from June to September. In a broader climatological sense, the dry season lasts from April and extends all the way to October, nearing the beginning of the hot, humid wet season.

Seasons[edit]

South Africa has the seasons of weather as typical for the southern hemisphere, with the coldest days in July–August. The Benguela Current, a cold motion that moves from the lower South Atlantic Ocean (including South Africa, Namibia and Angola), causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast. On the central plateau, which includes Free State and Gauteng provinces, the altitude keeps the average temperatures below 30 °C (86 °F); Johannesburg, for example, lies at 1,753 metres (5,751 ft).

In winter, also due to altitude, drop to the freezing point, and in some places, even lower. During winter, it is warmest in the coastal regions, especially on the eastern Indian Ocean coast.

Precipitation is to be expected mainly in the summer months, with the exception of the Western Cape, which is a winter-rain area that enjoys a Mediterranean climate.

Climatic zones[edit]

Highveld climate[edit]

The Highveld is the eastern plateau area of South Africa. It is typified by Johannesburg, at an elevation of 1,753 metres (5,751 ft). The former CBD is located on the south side of the prominent ridge called the Witwatersrand (Afrikaans: White Water's Ridge) and the terrain falls to the north and south. By and large the Witwatersrand marks the watershed between the Limpopo and Vaal rivers. The north and west of the city has undulating hills while the eastern parts are flatter.

The city enjoys a dry, sunny climate, with the exception of occasional late afternoon downpours in the summer months of October to April.[citation needed] Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild due to the city's high altitude, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 26 °C (78.8 °F), dropping to an average maximum of around 16 °C (60.8 °F) in June. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with cool days and cold nights. The temperature occasionally drops to below freezing at night, causing frost. Snow is a rare occurrence, with snowfall having been experienced in May 1956, August 1962, June 1964, September 1981, August 2006 (light), on 27 June 2007,[1] accumulating up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in the southern suburbs, and most recently on 7 August 2012.

Regular cold fronts pass over in winter bringing very cold southerly winds but usually clear skies. The annual average rainfall is 713 millimetres (28.1 in), which is mostly concentrated in the summer months. Infrequent showers occur through the course of the winter months.

Climate charts[edit]

Climate data for the Orange Free State
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)35
(95)
34
(93)
32
(90)
29
(84)
26
(79)
23
(73)
24
(75)
26
(79)
31
(88)
32
(90)
33
(91)
32
(90)
35
(95)
Average high °C (°F)26
(79)
25
(77)
24
(75)
21
(70)
19
(66)
16
(61)
17
(63)
19
(66)
23
(73)
24
(75)
24
(75)
25
(77)
22
(72)
Average low °C (°F)15
(59)
14
(57)
13
(55)
10
(50)
7
(45)
4
(39)
4
(39)
6
(43)
9
(48)
11
(52)
13
(55)
14
(57)
10
(50)
Record low °C (°F)7
(45)
6
(43)
2
(36)
1
(34)
−3
(27)
−8
(18)
−5
(23)
−5
(23)
−3
(27)
0
(32)
2
(36)
4
(39)
−8
(18)
Precipitation mm (inches)125
(4.92)
90
(3.54)
91
(3.58)
54
(2.13)
13
(0.51)
9
(0.35)
4
(0.16)
6
(0.24)
27
(1.06)
72
(2.83)
117
(4.61)
105
(4.13)
713
(28.07)
Source: South African Weather Service [2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ SABCnews.com. "Joburg covered by snow as temperature drops". Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  2. ^ "Climate data for Johannesburg". Retrieved 26 July 2007.