Weather: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Dust may be the most vivid weather feature across most of Uzbekistan and its southern neighbour, Turkmenistan. Each spring, great clouds of dust whipped up from the Kara Kum desert cascade across the land. They often follow in the wake of blustery thunderstorms that drop little if any rain. The dustiest regions are in central […]

Weather: Thailand, Myanmar

Cradled by mountains to its east and west, Thailand manages to avoid the worst extremes a monsoon climate can dish out. Although it’s decidedly moist here, sunshine is widespread, especially in winter, which is almost rain-free across the country. Even during summer, a given day has roughly even odds of staying dry, outside of the […]

Weather: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Almost half of Tajikistan sits more than 3000m/9900ft above sea level. What’s distinctive about the desolate highlands of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is how dry they are. Pinched off from the Indian monsoon by the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, these peaks get most of their winter snow as weak systems arrive from the west. Across the […]

Weather: Russia (including European Russia), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

Although its reputation precedes it, Russia’s climate is extreme only after a particular fashion. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that Russian winters are extremely cold. Yet much of the country enjoys warm mid-summer days that average above 20°C/68°F, and there are even a few bona fide hot spells. Thunderstorms are seldom intense outside of the […]

How winter came to Russia’s aid

Like a judo expert manipulating another’s strength to his advantage, Russia learned through years of experience how to use the power of wintertime in its own defence. Would-be conquerors who extended their stay past the autumn equinox did so at their own risk, as Napoleon discovered in 1812. That September, some 400,000 of his troops […]

Weather: Philippines

Even the warm South China and Philippines Sea aren’t quite enough to keep this chain of tropical islands from the effects of the Asian monsoon. While Mindanao and the southern Philippines stay warm to hot year round, Luzon (including Manila) experiences a few degrees of cooling, especially in the evening, from November to March. Winter […]

Weather: Nepal, Bhutan

The serene, snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas do more than loom over the Indian plains. During the summer, they stand firm against the southwest monsoon winds, forcing them to dump prodigious amounts of water across Nepal. The main climate differences through this zone hinge on elevation and topography, as you might expect. Particularly toward the […]

Weather: Maldives

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the Maldives’ climate isn’t local but global. The slow worldwide rise in sea level threatens to inundate much of this island nation within the next century. There’s little high ground here: the tallest atolls barely top 2m/6ft. Since the Maldives straddle the equator, wet seasons vary, but they tend […]

Weather: Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore

Seasonality is barely a concern when planning travel to this moist equatorial country. Temperatures in Malaysia hardly deviate through the year, with highs near sea level usually in the range of 30–32°C/86–90°F, and lows around 22–25°C/72–77°F. The range drops about 6°C/11°F for every 1000m/3300ft in elevation. Rainfall is well distributed through the year, with a […]

Weather: Kazakhstan

This is the behemoth of Central Asian countries, a sprawling land that spans 40° in longitude. That’s one-tenth of the way around the globe, fully twice the breadth of India. But Kazakhstan features less weather variety than you might expect across such a vast area, mainly as a result of its landlocked location. Only the […]

Weather: Japan

The hard-core seasonality of Chinese climate gets moderated on its way to the Japanese archipelago. This chain of over 4000 islands runs from the tropics to the northern mid-latitudes, so there is plenty of north-to-south contrast. However, the broad strokes are similar to China’s: wintertime cold and sweaty summer heat are interspersed with distinctly rainy […]

Weather: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

What Indonesia lacks in longitude, it makes up for in its vast east–west spread, extending over 4800km/3000 miles (and even further if you include Papua New Guinea). The volcanic peaks of Indonesia ensure that the main temperature differences are tied to elevation. As in Malaysia, anticipate a drop of roughly 6°C/11°F for every 1000m/3300ft, with […]

Weather: India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan

As troublesome as it may be, the monsoon is a member of the family here. India simply wouldn’t be the same without it. It’s a dramatic sight, to be sure: after days of torrid heat and humidity, with only an occasional storm at best, the skies suddenly darken, the southwest winds kick in, and before […]

Weather: Guam

Like its neighbours in the northwest Pacific, US territory Guam keeps its eyes to the east during the summer and autumn. Few other parts of the world are at as much risk from typhoons. Many buildings are constructed like concrete bunkers to ensure that they last more than a few years. If you focus your […]

Weather: China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Tibet

Weather may be one reason why the philosophy of yin and yang developed in China. This ancient culture evolved in a climate rife with dualism. For starters, there’s the monsoon. Less publicized than India’s, this annual cycle of rain and drought is a fundamental part of life across the densely populated eastern half of the […]

Weather: Asia

To say that Asia is the world’s largest, most populous continent doesn’t quite do the place justice. The sheer scope of this land mass is hard to comprehend. Asia is almost twice the size of North America. You could cram five Australias – or 140 Italys – within its ample borders. On one side of […]

Weather: Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia

Much like the Sahel, but without the blazing temperatures, Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia feel the pulse of the ITCZ each year. Its southward push brings widespread showers, thunderstorms and clouds from December into March. The rains are most frequent (almost daily) and the clouds most persistent across Zambia, where the ITCZ is enhanced by intrusions […]

Weather: Tunisia

This tiny but diverse nation echoes the landscape and climate of Algeria in miniature: a mountain barrier separates a scenic coast from a parched interior. The east-facing shore is more vulnerable than Morocco’s to cool, rainy winter storms settling down from Europe and heat from the Sahara moving north. Apart from the occasional blast-furnace days […]

Weather: Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda

Like Kenya to its north, Tanzania is blessed with delightful temperatures – largely as a result of altitude – but cursed by erratic rainfall that plays havoc with food supplies. The average rainfall does tend to run slightly higher than Kenya’s; in both countries, summer drought can result when an El Niño is brewing. Most […]

Weather: South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland

Hail, tornadoes, snowstorms: at first glance the climate of South Africa seems to resemble that of the US Midwest. In reality, the extremes here are more localized and not terribly common. Sunshine and moderate warmth are actually the most prevalent features of South African climate. Jutting into the Atlantic, the southwest corner of the Western […]

Weather: Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone

This is the end-point for the east-to-west march of weather systems across the Sahel. Senegal, as well as The Gambia (which it surrounds) is where easterly waves enter the Atlantic after dousing the region with intense rain and thunder. Outside of the June-to-October visit of the ITCZ and its easterly waves, Senegal is virtually rainless. […]

Weather: Nigeria

Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria has a climate regime similar to that of the Guinea-coast nations to its west, as the ITCZ brings wet weather northward from March to May and southward from October to December. Only the extreme north is semi-arid in classic Sahel style, while parts of the lower Niger delta are drenched […]

Weather: Namibia, Angola

If it’s dry land you crave, try Namibia. Featuring not one, but two types, of desert, temperatures here are still remarkably comfortable. Most of the nation is a high, sunny plateau, which keeps summer readings somewhat in check. Winter mornings are crisp, but the afternoons typically warm to well above 16°C/60°F. A stray winter shower […]

Weather: Morocco, Algeria

A Spaniard need only cross the Strait of Gibraltar to arrive in Morocco, so it naturally follows that the north coast of this mountainous nation shares a similar Mediterranean climate, with bright, warm summer days and a cool winter laced with rainy spells every two or three days. The story’s much the same inland to […]

Weather: Mali, Burkina, Chad, Mauritania ,Niger

As sprawling as it is – Mali is nearly twice the size of Texas – this semi-arid country and its neighbours share a common climatic language. The yearly arrival and departure of the ITCZ and its rain is what divides the southern part of Mali from the harsher desert regime to its north. The same […]

Weather: Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles

The world’s fourth largest island is a virtual rainmaking machine. Madagascar slopes upward to the east, culminating in the dramatic, forested cliffs that run the length of the island from north to south. The southeast trade winds are forced up this barrier, and the result is an average of 2000–3000mm/79–118in of rain along Madagascar’s east […]

Weather: Kenya, Uganda

Generalizing about Kenyan weather is a dangerous practice. Given the highlands of the west, the semi-arid lowlands, the moist coast and the volcanic peaks of Kirinyaga and – just across the border – Kilimanjaro, distinct climate zones abound. Even climatology is of limited use, since a hallmark of Kenyan rainfall is its year-to-year variability. Much […]

Weather: Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo

Ghana’s climate is the most distinctive among the small nations clustered along the Guinea coast of West Africa. The land is distinctive, too: huge tracts of virgin rainforest have disappeared, with more savanna than you’d expect so far south. Yet even without the hand of humanity, the ecosystem of Ghana, along with nearby Togo and […]

Weather: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia

The horn of Africa has seen more than its share of agony, including decades of civil war and devastating drought. Visitors to Ethiopia may be surprised, then, at how agreeable its climate can be. The nation’s western highlands escape both the sizzling heat of the northeast’s Danakil Desert and the nonstop mugginess of the southeastern […]

Weather: Egypt, Libya, Sudan

Adaptation is the key to life in the Nile Valley, where agriculture has been sustained for millennia. Certainly, without irrigation, crops would not grow so well in the land around Cairo, where the annual rainfall average barely exceeds 20mm/0.8in. South of Egypt’s north coast and populous northeast corner, the climate is relatively uniform. From early […]

Weather: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic

At the heart of equatorial Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre) has one of the more dependable climatic regimes of the continent. The ITCZ pulls wet, thundery weather to the north from March to November and to the south from December to February. In between, the central Congo basin, including Mbandaka (perched directly […]

Weather: Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Principe, Såo Tomé

This small, spectacular country lies at the crossroads of several African weather regimes. Few places can out-drench Cameroon’s coastal delta, where moist southwesterlies are forced upward by Cameroon Mountain and neighbouring peaks to produce one of the world’s wettest climates. Debundscha’s annual average is over 1000mm/390in, and the coast is soaked from March to November. […]

Weather: Botswana

For a country that’s half desert, Botswana has a surprisingly agreeable climate. Sunshine is ample year round, from the driest reaches of the south to the wildlife-studded swamps of the Okavango Delta. The stretch from the Delta to Francistown is the wettest part of the country, but even during the wet season (October–March) thunderstorms arrive […]

Weather: Africa

More than any other continent, Africa is swept by the back-and-forth migration of meteorology’s equator. Africans watch the globe-straddling intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) as intently as a day trader watches stocks. As the ITCZ sloshes north and south over its annual cycle, it brings much of Africa its only period of annual rainfall. The dry-season/wet-season […]

Weather: Yemen

Don’t expect a rainforest here, but the climate of Yemen does have its moist side. Every summer, a powerful low-level jet stream arcs from Somalia toward India. As the strong flow approaches Yemen’s soaring western highlands, it can trigger substantial rains and thunderstorms. The high terrain picks up other moisture through the rest of the […]

Weather: Syria

Syria epitomizes Middle Eastern climate, with a Mediterranean wet-winter regime on the coast and a desert that spans most of the country east of a narrow strip of coastal mountains. Damascus is part of the Fertile Crescent, a transition zone near the Lebanon border that gets just enough moisture to keep the desert at arm’s […]

Weather: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates

With the world’s largest expanse of sand at its heart, Saudi Arabia lives up to its reputation for dust and heat – at least between May and October – although the summer mode may arrive and depart a little ahead or behind schedule. The Arabian peninsula slopes eastward from a substantial rise near the west coast. […]

Weather: Oman

Wrapped around the eastern end of the Arabian peninsula, Oman is influenced by both the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. The nation’s most populated area, along the Gulf of Oman coast, offers truly world-class sultriness. From May through September, the coastal strip is more hot and humid than Miami ever gets. Nights regularly hang above […]

Weather: Lebanon

Thanks in large part to its formidable mountains – some of which rise to 2500m/8200ft – Lebanon is one of the most well-watered spots in the Middle East. The mountains get enough snow for skiing in winter and can offer temperatures as low as the freezing point in summer. Even the coastal hills get 5 […]

Weather: Jordan

Despite its location less than 160km/100 miles to the east of the Mediterranean, Jordan is a dry land. Only the western hills get an appreciable amount of moisture – as much as 800mm/32in in a few spots – though blustery showers and storms skim the eastern deserts a few times each winter. As in neighbouring […]

Weather: Israel

For its size, Israel boasts unusually varied weather. Like its neighbours to the north, it has a Mediterranean coastal zone that gets regular winter rains. Annual amounts trend downward as you move south from the Haifa area (which gets around 630mm/25in, with a couple of soggy days every winter week) toward the Egyptian border (which […]

Weather: Iran

Ringed by high ridges, Iran has a mountain-and-plateau climate that belies its location next to two major bodies of water. The cold Asian high dominates in winter, but as it waxes and wanes, temperatures across parts of the interior may shoot above 16°C/60°F, or drop below –18°C/0°F. Mediterranean depressions arrive about once a week on […]

Weather: Middle East

A crossroads of culture and faith for millennia, the Middle East is also a place where giant weather regimes rub shoulders. Cold high pressure centred in Siberia pushes its way into the region each winter, which can be a surprisingly chilly season in the heart of the Middle East. Some of Iran’s mountains remain snow-capped […]

Weather: European holiday islands

Most of what you need to know about the weather on the islands between Europe and Africa is summed up in the name of the sea that holds them. The Mediterranean’s world-famous climate plays out on all of its islands through variations on a familiar theme: warm-to-hot summers that are bone-dry, and mild winters with […]

Weather: Western Balkans and vicinity

The western Balkans are a laboratory for weather extremes. Conditions can vary in striking fashion across small distances from coast to nearby peak, even from valley to valley. The Dinaric ridge runs parallel to the Adriatic Sea across western Serbia and north along the border between Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Mediterranean lows slam moisture against the […]

Weather: United Kingdom

You’re never far from the ocean when you’re in the United Kingdom. That fact tells you a lot – though hardly everything – about British weather. The climate here feels undeniably moist, yet the rain is by no means constant. Most of England gets measurable moisture not quite every other day, often amounting to little more […]

Weather: Ukraine

Like southern Canada, the Ukraine experiences summers warm enough to allow grains to thrive despite the high latitude. Even in Kiev, toward Ukraine’s northern border, high temperatures average 22°C/72°F, or better, for more than three months of the year. Summer storms usually drop enough rain to keep crops healthy (although drought is always a concern), […]

Weather: Turkey

You can find bitter cold, scorching heat, damp gloom and brilliant sunshine within the borders of Turkey’s uncommonly varied climate. The rugged west and south coasts are firmly Mediterranean. Here, the rains virtually cease from June through September but can be heavy in the cool winter. Along the coastal arc from Izmir through Antalya to […]

Weather: Switzerland

Geography has everything to do with the weather in this very mountainous country, especially across the Alps that dominate the country’s southern half. The north slopes of the Alps are prone to the same cold waves that put Germany on ice. Meanwhile, south slopes are exposed to Mediterranean flow that’s often balmy but laden with […]

Weather: Sweden

Although Sweden extends across nearly as much latitude as Norway, its north–south sweep is on the east side of Scandinavia’s mountain corridor rather than the west side. That makes all the difference. With the mountains largely closing the door to Atlantic flow – though it’s left ajar in places – Sweden runs distinctly colder and […]

Weather: Spain

It may be joined at its shoulder to Europe, but meteorologically speaking, Spain has little to do with the rest of the continent. The Iberian Peninsula goes its own way weatherwise, generating its own pools of cold air in winter and dry-roasting on its own in summer. Even if it were as pancake-flat as The […]

Weather: Slovakia

Slovakia’s climate is split by the mountain ranges at its heart. The Danube lowland across the southwest is the nation’s warm spot. Enough moisture trickles up from the Mediterranean so that many days in July and August feel a touch humid across the plains and on the Danube (where Bratislava and Vienna share a similar climate). […]

Weather: Romania, Moldova

Much like Bulgaria to its south, Romania has a four-season climate modulated by extensive highlands. Except for the highest parts of the Carpathians, most of the country will reach 26°C/79°F on a typical mid-summer day. Humidity is highest along the broad Danube valley. The warm season is the wetter time across the heart of Romania, but […]

Weather: Portugal

Flanking the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal meets and greets Atlantic storm systems throughout the winter months, intercepting much of the rain before it can reach the plain or anywhere else in Spain. The mountains in the northern half of Portugal accentuate this effect. Some northern stations get as much winter rain as […]

Weather: Poland

As spacious as it is, Poland doesn’t have much in the way of dramatic climate variations from place to place. What varies most is the weather itself, from day to day and season to season. The country isn’t quite as mercurial as Russia when it comes to temperatures, but Polish weather can surprise a visitor […]

Weather: Norway

The Norway of picture books isn’t so much a region as a ribbon, wrapping from southwest to northeast around more than 1600km/1000 miles of coastline. Off the west coast lies some of the world’s warmest high-latitude water. This part of the Atlantic basin never freezes, even during weeks of winter darkness. The ocean currents that […]

Weather: The Netherlands

It’s ironic that two of The Netherlands’ most famous icons – its dikes and windmills – call to mind the image of a windy, waterlogged nation. True, it rains with regularity here, but no spot averages more than 1000mm/39in a year. That’s below the norm in Wales and much less than on the west coasts […]

Weather: Lithuania, Belarus

Most of Lithuania is only a few hours’ drive from the Baltic coast, but the inner parts of this country – including the touristed areas of Vilnius and Trakai – experience more of a dramatic change from summer to winter than their closeness to the sea might suggest. Winters are cold nationwide, though distinctly less […]

Weather: Latvia, Estonia

Scandinavians will feel at home with the climate of Latvia and its northern neighbour, Estonia. Both countries adjoin the Baltic Sea, with a west coast wrapping around the Gulf of Riga. Proximity to water gives these countries a cool, humid regime year round. Winter temperatures are relatively mild for the latitude – no colder, on […]

Weather: Italy

San Marino | Vatican City The cradle of the Renaissance was also the location where weather observing as we know it evolved, thanks to the efforts of Torricelli, Galileo and other Italian scientists and inventors. There is plenty to observe weatherwise across this varied country. Jutting into the sea, Italy is a sitting duck for […]

Weather: Ireland

Ireland is less likely than the UK to surprise visitors with unexpected weather. Positioned further into the Atlantic, the Emerald Isle has a more uniform temperature regime than the UK, and over 50 percent more rain as a whole. Cold snaps tend to lose their punch by the time they make it across the sea […]

Weather: Iceland

It may not quite live up to its name, but Iceland is indeed a chilly place. Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital (aside from Nuuk, Greenland), and it may also be the one with the coldest summers: in July, the average highs stay below 14°C/57°F. Warm ocean currents and the most favoured track of North Atlantic […]

Weather: Hungary

The open fields of the Great Hungarian Plain cultivate one of Europe’s most vivid four-season climates: visitors from the American Midwest will feel at home. Summers are bathed in sunshine, with frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms rolling across the prairie. Especially in the Danube valley, there’s often enough moisture in the air for it to feel […]

Weather: Greenland

Most of this semi-independent Danish province is slathered by the Northern Hemisphere’s largest sheet of ice, rising more than 3300m/10,000ft high at its centre. By and large, tourists wisely stick to Greenland’s coasts, where summers are chilly but bright. During the peak June-to-August travel season, average highs remain above 6°C/40°F along the entire west coast, […]

Weather: Greece

It’s hard to summarize the climate in a land with 2000 islands, high mountain peaks, and exposure to air masses that range from sub-tropical to polar. Nearly all of Greece is ruled by a Mediterranean regime, which means that precipitation is focused in the cool season. Summers are virtually rain-free: the best chance for a […]

Weather: Germany

Although Germany covers a fair amount of north–south distance – from the Alps to the northern seas – the weather doesn’t vary a tremendous amount across this reach. There’s no more than about 5°C/8°F difference in the average temperatures of Germany’s major cities. As is the case elsewhere in northwest Europe, it rains or snows […]

Weather: France

Although it’s not an island like its neighbour across the English Channel, France is bordered on three sides by water. The Atlantic and Mediterranean help to moderate the temperature swings that otherwise might occur at France’s latitude. The ragged northwest coast of Brittany and Normandy has a climate not too dissimilar to much of Great […]

How does weather shape France’s wines?

More and more wine is being grown in places with hot Mediterranean-style climates, Australia and California among them. But France’s unique blend of landscape and weather – its terroir – has nurtured the grape for centuries. Experts have found that wine grows best in regions with cool winters that are a little above freezing and […]

Weather: Finland

Lake-strewn Finland has a maritime feel, although the huge air masses that build over continental Russia are never too distant. The ebb and flow between these influences is the main driver of Finnish climate. The Atlantic and the high latitude keep things relatively cool in summer, with few big temperature differences across the country. It […]

Weather: Denmark

Except for its border between Jutland and Germany, Denmark is essentially an island nation with a climate to match. As in The Netherlands and southern Sweden, you can expect some form of light precipitation almost every other day year-round, although the rain or snow is seldom very heavy. Atlantic gales pound the west coast of Jutland […]

Weather: Czech Republic

The mountains that encircle much of the Czech Republic help to shield it from the coldest of the air that flows west from Russia. Nonetheless, the country tends to remain on the chilly side during the winter throughout the lowlands, and colder still in the mountains. A dusting of snow may fall every 2 or […]

Weather: Bulgaria

Two mountain ranges and two broad valleys make up the setting for Bulgaria’s four-season climate. The Balkans run east–west through the nation’s heart, and they shield the southern lowlands somewhat from outbreaks of winter cold. Along the southern border, the Rhodope Mountains help prevent the hot, humid air of Greece from sweeping northward. It’s still […]

Weather: Belgium, Luxembourg

Belgium is a land of gentle transitions meteorologically as well as culturally. The weather of Flanders is very similar to that of the adjacent Netherlands: cool winters, milder summers (especially as you move inland) and, in all seasons, frequent – through seldom intense – rain. As you move south into Wallonia, the climate becomes a little more […]

Weather: Austria, Liechtenstein

The broad-brush picture of weather in Austria is fairly straightforward; it’s the delicate strokes that can throw a visitor. On the large scale, Austria features a Swiss-style mountainous regime to the west and a central European lowland climate to the east. The Tyrol region of western Austria – and Liechtenstein just beyond – is crisscrossed […]

Weather: Europe

By and large, European weather obeys the dictum “moderation in all things”. When compared to other mid-latitude continents, Europe is indeed a favoured child. Tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards may fling themselves at the United States; China may endure intense heat and brutal cold; but most of Europe trundles along with relatively few weather worries. In […]

Weather: Caribbean/Atlantic Islands

Aruba | Bahamas | Bermuda | Cuba | Dominican Republic | Haiti | Jamaica | Netherlands Antilles The homogeneous cultures that extend across much of the Caribbean have been shaped in part by a beneficent climate. Across this great arc of islands, temperatures gradually rise and fall from pleasantly warm levels in January to readings […]

Spinning fiction out of Colombian climate

The fractured mix of coastline and mountain across northernmost Colombia and Venezuela is laced with small-scale weather regimes that violate the normal rules of climate. As the childhood home of novelist Gabriel García Márquez, this land was fertile ground for the blend of magic and realism that permeates his writing. García Márquez grew up in […]

Weather: Venezuela, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname

The usual ingredients of tropical climate – sharp moisture contrasts, temperatures that hang steady – come together in intriguing ways through the belt of countries across the north end of South America. The Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Colombia is famous for its oddly dry climate, with striking differences in rainfall across short distances. Although […]

Weather: Peru

For a country fronting a tropical ocean, it’s amazing that coastal Peru is as dry as it is. Some towns along the Pacific go years without measurable rain. The desert air, shaped by cold waters moving north along the coast and welling up from below, tends to be humid, yet mild, for its tropical latitude. […]

Weather: Ecuador/Galapagos

South America’s climatological contrasts seem to converge on this small Pacific nation. The northernmost tip of coastline gets well over 1000mm/39in of rain a year. Further south along the coast, the amounts drop off drastically. Manta averages less than 300mm/12in, although the rains are much heavier just inland. The coast is more moist and more […]

Weather: Chile

This is the world’s most linear country: Chile spans 38° of latitude but less than 2° of longitude at its narrowest point. All along that length, the Andes and the Pacific face off. This means the gradual transition from sub-tropic to sub-polar along Chile’s length is rivalled by the changes that occur in a short […]

Weather: Brazil

Roughly as large as the United States or China, Brazil is by far the world’s largest nation straddling the equator. For all its size, however, Brazil has relatively few weather surprises, thanks to its low latitude and the absence of any huge mountain ranges. Amazonia and Mato Grosso The northwest third of Brazil is dominated […]

Weather: Bolivia

Situated entirely east of the Pacific coastal desert, Bolivia divides neatly into lowland and highland regimes. The lowlands include rainforest across the northeast and the Chaco grasslands across the southeast. Both regions are hot and humid – it often climbs above 40°C/104°F across the Chaco from September to December – and both get plenty of rain […]

Weather: Argentina

If any part of South America approaches the four-season regime familiar to Americans and Europeans, it’s the heart of Argentina. Most of the country gets recognizably warm in summer and cool in winter, with clear-cut transitions in between. What’s more, the bulk of Argentina manages a great deal of sunshine without becoming a desert. Some […]

Weather: South America

Bone-dry deserts overlooking tropical oceans, perpetual windswept chill, hushed tropical splendour – South America isn’t lacking in climatic variety. As opposed to the chameleon-like seasonal shifts found in Asia and North America, South America specializes in more-uniform climates that maintain their bold, distinctive hues throughout the year. Despite the “South” in its name, a good […]

Weather: Panama

Like a microcosm of Central America, Panama’s length is far greater than its breadth. The country snakes its way from west to east, putting the Atlantic to its north and the Pacific to its south (if you’re sailing from Europe to Asia, you actually end up further east after going through the Panama Canal). The […]

Weather: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador

The highlands of the sierra at the heart of Guatemala provide a refreshing change from the muggy air that loiters at sea level. At a typical sierra altitude of 1500m/4900ft — the height of Guatemala City — most nights drop below 15°C/59°F in winter and 18°C/62°F even in summer. Afternoons warm up nicely year-round, but […]

Weather: Costa Rica,Nicaragua

For all the renowned ecological diversity of this small nation, its meteorological diversity is worth noting as well. This is a country where micro-climates reign supreme. The combination of an irregular coastline, the presence of two contrasting bodies of water nearby, and the extremely varied topography leads to a plethora of local wind and rainfall […]

Weather: Belize

Weather: Belize

Cays and coral reefs are one of the main tourist draws here, so the heat and humidity that rule Belize almost year-round aren’t necessarily a drawback. The dry season is shorter than usual for Central America. Summer and autumn deliver a downpour about every alternate day, and in winter a few fronts push south from the […]

The wet season’s «little summer”

If you visit Central America or south and east Mexico during the heart of the wet season, you may find the heavens failing to open up as expected. The afternoon rains typically slacken across much of the region for two or three weeks during July or August, producing the canicula or veranillo (literally, the little […]

Weather: Central America

On a global scale, Central America might seem to be little more than a thread of land connecting the much larger fabrics of North and South America. Yet clinging to this thread is a spectacular array of landforms, cultures and micro-climates. As you’d expect for a region lying wholly between the Tropic of Cancer and […]

Weather: The United States

Entire shelves of books have been written about United States weather. In part, that’s because the country is both sprawling and populous. The nation’s agricultural roots and high mobility also play into its obsession with the atmosphere. But the weather itself deserves some credit. Europeans who settled America from east to west were progressively amazed […]

The great American thermometer race

Roadside kitsch is a US tradition and the country’s oversized weather extremes are a natural source of material. At least two tornado «museums» sprang up during the 1990s, for instance. On your way to Death Valley, California — the hottest spot in the Americas — it’s difficult to miss the world’s largest thermometer display. Erected […]

Weather: Mexico

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a blizzard or a tornado in Mexico. Unlike its neighbours to the north, Mexico gets few of the wild temperature swings that play out across the mid-latitudes. Hurricanes are not to be taken lightly in Mexico, however: they can cause major destruction along the east-facing coastlines of the Gulf of […]

Weather: Canada

The worlds second-largest country, Canada has the worlds most extensive coastline, fronting the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. This provides plenty of raw material for a varied climate, much like that of the United States, but colder and drier on average. Storm systems often spin up along the nations southern tier (especially in Alberta) before […]

Weather: North America

North Americas mercurial climate has something for everyone. Severe hurricanes, killer tornadoes, crippling snowstorms, torrential downpours, withering drought and a fair share of nice weather, too — all pay frequent visits to this prosperous, yet vulnerable, land that stretches from the Canadian Arctic to tropical Mexico. Hollywood has bombarded the world with films of extraordinary […]

Computer models

Your weathercaster might have more charisma, but computer models are the building blocks of almost every weather forecast you’ll ever get on TV or anywhere else. Modern meteorology would be impossible without them. A computer model that predicts the weather is nothing more or less than a miniature replica of the atmosphere. Models are each […]

Forecasting by the numbers

While employed as an ambulance-driver for the French army during World War I, Lewis Fry Richardson worked on a scheme that’s still in use today for predicting weather by computer. Richardson devised seven equations that could be used to extend the current weather into the future. He put his ideas to the test with a […]

Weather chaos

The early 1960s saw a boom in scientific studies, including meteorology, but in the background one particular sceptic was raising eyebrows. Edward Lorenz, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discovered what still seems to be an outer limit to useful weather forecasts.The problem Lorenz found later became famous as ‘chaos*. When […]

Let’s discuss this storm

For a glimpse into the minds of working meteorologists, the forecast discussions posted by the US National Weather Service each day are unbeatable. NWS forecasters use these to explain the reasoning behind their outlooks, acknowledging what is fairly certain and what might go wrong. Laden with jargon and sometimes sprinkled with weather-nerd humour, these discussions […]