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Namibia Climate


Although the greater part of Namibia lies within the tropics, the climate is typical of a desert-like country with warm to hot days and cool to cold nights. Rainfall is low and irregular whilst evaporation rates are high. 90% of the country consists of dry land that deteriorates from semi-arid to extremely arid. The remainder is sub-humid.

Namibia suffers permanent water deficits, a condition measured in millimetres per year, that being the difference between average rainfall and potential evaporation. Deficits range from 1300 to 2500 millimetres, the greatest occurring in the south-east.

With rainfall of less than 100 millimetres per year, the Namib is the only true desert south of the Sahara and it covers about a fifth of the country. A system of classification that takes into account rainfall characteristics, as well as humidity ranges and temperature conditions, characterises 43% of Namibia as desert and all the rest as semi-desert.

Normal rainfall is unknown with dry and wet cycles of unpredictable duration being the norm. North-east winds bring rain in summer from October to April, with the exception of the southern-most quarter of the Namib where rain falls mostly in winter and comes from the south-west. Rainfall decreases from north to south and east to west.

The north-east experiences the most rain, with 500 to 700 millimetres per year, whilst the Namib coast gets less than 50 millimetres. In most of the country rainfall varies between 100 and 500 millimetres. Rain usually takes the form of fugitive thunderstorms in the afternoon. The rainy season, such as it is, is of short duration.

The average number of rainy days in a year, days with rainfall of 1 millimetre or more, do not exceed 50 anywhere in Namibia. In most of the country, east of the Namib, the total is 15 to 40 days. In the desert rain falls, on average, on only 5 to 15 days in a year.
By and large, Namibia is blue-sky country. For the most part, the interior receives an average of 9 to 11 hours of sunshine per day, as measured over a full year. The coast is subject to frequent fog and, in the winter months, the daily average is less than 5 hours.

The hottest months are October in the north, December in the central parts, January in the south and February on the coast. Temperatures are highest in the south, east and far north. The highlands around Windhoek are not as hot as other parts of the interior.

In summer, the coast is the coolest part of the country. In the hottest month the maximum temperature on the coast averages 20 to 24 C with 30 to 40 C inland.

Winter lasts no longer than 2 or 3 months as a discernible season and, even in mid-winter, the days become pleasantly warm.

The coldest months are August on the coast and July in the interior, with the lowest temperatures in east-central Namibia. The average minimum temperatures in the coldest months are 2 to 10 C in the interior and 10 to 12 C on the coast.
Frost is limited to 10 to 30 occurrences a year in the coldest part of the interior and fewer than 10 everywhere else. It is rare in the north and unknown on the coast.

The average temperature of 16 C on the Namib coast is among the lowest in a tropical altitude anywhere in the world. On the central coast, fog forms on 146 days of the year. Surface sea temperatures average 13 to 15 C in winter and 15 to 17 C in summer.

Onshore winds blow frequently from the south with calm weather once a week, at most. On summer afternoons on the south coast, much the windiest part of Namibia, the average wind speed exceeds 40 km/h.

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