Index


Introduction



In much of Pakistan, the climate is tropical or subtropical, semi-arid or desert, but in the north there are also: an area near the mountains which is quite rainy, a cold mountainous area, and a frigid area on the peaks of the Himalayas.
In the cold half of the year, from late autumn to early spring, the north is reached by weather fronts of Mediterranean origin, which cause rainfall in the lowlands and snowfall in the mountains. In spring (ie March and April), the clash between air masses can cause thunderstorms and strong winds. In summer, from July to mid September, the country is reached by an offshoot of the Indian monsoon, but in most of the country it is not able to bring heavy rains, while it doesn't arrive at all in the western part. However, the warmest months are those that precede the monsoon, especially June, which is very hot in plains and hills, and up to quite high altitudes.
The monsoon has an irregular pattern: during some years, it may have an unusual force, generating floods, while in other years, it doesn't even arrive. Rivers may overflow even at a great distance from the area where the heaviest rainfall occurred, which typically happen in the north. So, the great valley of the Indus and its tributaries may also be affected by widespread flooding in the southern area, where normally it doesn't rain much.
The cycle called ENSO can affect the monsoon's performance: in La Niña years, rainfall is heavier than normal, while El Niño brings drought.

Mountains



Mountain climate zone

In the mountainous areas of the north and west, the climate is continental, with a wide temperature range between winter and summer, and often also between night and day. The temperature naturally decreases with altitude. The northern area (zone 1 on the map), as well as being the coldest at equal altitude, is more prone to cold fronts brought by the westerly winds of the middle latitudes from December to May. But not all areas receive a lot of precipitation: it depends on slope exposure. The southern side (the mountains north of Peshawar and Islamabad) is much more rainy than the northern one.

Kashmir

In Kashmir, in the northernmost valleys of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in the disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan, yearly rainfall is at desert levels, below 250 millimeters (10 inches). Anyway, at higher altitudes, snowfalls quite frequently occur in winter, and above 4,500 meters (14,800 ft), vast glaciers are found, but the fact that the trekking season runs from April to October shows how this area is sheltered from the monsoon rains, although we cannot exclude some showers or thunderstorms, and maybe snowfalls on the highest peaks.
In Pakistan, there are two mountain ranges, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush, that host some of the highest peaks on the planet, starting with K2, the second highest mountain in the world with its 8,611 meters (28,251 ft). The highest peak of the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir, 7,708 meters (25,289 ft) high.

Skardu

Skardu, located at 2,200 meters (7,200 ft) above sea level, is the starting point for climbing K2 and other peaks above 8,000 meters (26,200 ft); the climate here is arid continental, with an average ranging from -2.5 °C (27.5 °F) in January to 24 °C (75 °F) in July, when the average maximum reaches 32 °C (90 °F).
Here are the average temperatures of Skardu.
Skardu - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-8-42710131616114-2-6
Max (°C)361219232932312720136
Min (°F)182536455055616152392821
Max (°F)374354667384908881685543

Precipitation in Skardu amounts to 250 mm (10 in) per year, with a relative maximum between winter and spring. Here is the average precipitation.
Skardu - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)3025353025101010105515215
Prec.(in)1.211.41.210.40.40.40.40.20.20.68.5
Days

Expeditions to K2 are typically organized between the second half of July and early August. K2 and other peaks over 8,000 meters (26,200 ft) have a polar climate throughout the year, with strong winds that increase the sensation of cold.

K2, Pakistan

On the southern side of the mountains, in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province), the rains are plentiful, both those of winter and spring, which are caused by western disturbances, and those of the monsoon period, which are even heavier. Therefore, annual rainfall can exceed 1,500 mm (60 in) in the district of Abbottabad. The Ayubia National Park is definitely green and rainy.
In the south-western part of Pakistan, there are other mountain ranges (zone 2), such as the Chagai Hills and the Sulaiman Mountains; weather fronts in winter pass less frequently over this area, and the summer monsoon barely affects them as well. The result is a semi-desert climate, cold in winter, at least at night and above a certain altitude, while summer is hot even at relatively high altitudes.
The plateau of Baluchistan (or Balochistan) has an arid continental climate as well, cold in winter and hot in summer.

Quetta

In Quetta, 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) above sea level, the monthly average temperature ranges from 4 °C (39 °F) in January to 28 °C (82 °F) in July. Here, the summer monsoon produces little effects, with only sporadic rains. From December to March, the temperature at night usually drops below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F), but during the day it normally exceeds 10 °C (50 °F). Sometimes it can snow in winter, and intense frosts may occur at night, even as low as -15 °C (5 °F). On the other hand, in the summer months, the temperature can reach 40 °C (104 °F) despite the altitude. Here, the best months, in order to avoid the weather extremes, are April and October. Here are the average temperatures.
Quetta - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-3-13812162018114-1-3
Max (°C)111319253036363531261913
Min (°F)273037465461686452393027
Max (°F)525566778697979588796655

In Quetta, 260 mm (10.2 in) of rain or snow fall in a year, the large part of which occurring from December to March. Here is the average precipitation.
Quetta - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)5045503093171614630262
Prec.(in)21.821.20.40.10.70.600.20.21.210.3
Days45654254221343

The sun in Quetta shines all year long. Here are the average sunshine hours.
Quetta - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours778911111010101098

Quetta

Plains and hills



Plains and hills climate zone

In the northern part of the Indo-Gangetic plain (zone A), corresponding to the region of Punjab (or Panjab), the "five rivers land", the climate is sub-tropical, with a mild and relatively rainy winter (when, however, nights are cold), followed by a very hot period from mid-April through June, when the temperature can reach 46/47 °C (115/117 °F), and a sweltering summer, with some rain brought by the monsoon from July to September. In spring, especially in March, tornadoes may occasionally occur because of the clash between different air masses. Before the monsoon, in May and June, a very hot wind blows, the Loo, which can bring dust storms as well as the rapid dehydration in animals and humans, and the desiccation of vegetation. Scattered thunderstorms may occur, causing ephemeral decreases in temperature. The monsoon arrives between late June and early July, but it's not as intense as in other regions of India, and it's characterized by periods of bad weather alternating with long weeks with intense heat and drought. However, the rains, though rare, can be violent and concentrated in few hours or even in few minutes, and when they last a few days, rivers may overflow.
In winter, in Punjab (but also in northern Sindh), mists and fogs often form.

Peshawar

In Peshawar, in the northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the monthly average temperature ranges from 11 °C (52 °F) in January to 33 °C (91 °F) in June, with highs around 40 °C (104 °F). In July, August and September, the daytime temperature drops a little, to around 35/38 °C (95/100 °F), but at the cost of an increase in humidity. In winter, between December and February, the temperature is mild during the day, with highs around 18/20 °C (64/68 °F), but it often gets cold at night, when the temperature can drop to around freezing. Here are the average temperatures.
Peshawar - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)461116212627262316105
Max (°C)182024303640383635312620
Min (°F)394352617079817973615041
Max (°F)64687586971041009795887968

In an average year, 410 mm (16 in) of rain fall. In winter and spring, some rains may occur, with a maximum in March of 75 mm (3 in), while the summer monsoon brings a maximum of only 70 mm (2.8 in) per month in August, although the rains may be heavier during some years: in the rainiest August ever, rainfall amounted to 450 mm (17.7 in). Here is the average precipitation.
Peshawar - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)30457550258457022111325412
Prec.(in)1.21.83210.31.82.80.90.40.5116.2
Days5711107489543477

The sun in Peshawar shines quite often even in winter, it reaches a maximum in May and June, and then the sunshine hours decrease a little because of the monsoon.
Peshawar - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours67681010989986

In Lahore, a large metropolis in Punjab, the climate is similar to that of Peshawar, but owing to the more southern position, the winter is a bit milder: the average ranges from 13 °C (55.5 °F) in January to 33.5 °C (92.5 °F) in June. Lying more to the east, the city is more exposed to the monsoon, in fact, it receives 510 mm (20 in) of rain per year, including 150 mm (6 in) in July and 130 mm (5.1 in) in August.

Lahore

Islamabad

The capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, and the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, are located at 500 meters (1,600 feet) above sea level, and are a bit cooler, and also much more rainy, since they are located at the foot of the mountains; in fact, they receive 1,250 mm (49 in) of rain per year, including more than 250 mm (10 in) per month in July and August. Here is the average precipitation in Islamabad.
Islamabad - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)65951108055802752901003525451250
Prec.(in)2.63.74.33.12.23.110.811.43.91.411.849.2
Days5710108816169434100

The average temperature in January is 10.5 °C (51 °F), and light frosts may sometimes occur at night. In summer, the rains lower the daytime temperatures more than in other cities, to 33/35 °C (91/95 °F) in July and August, but moisture becomes high. Here are the average temperatures.
Islamabad - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)35101520242424211483
Max (°C)181924303539353334312520
Min (°F)374150596875757570574637
Max (°F)6466758695102959193887768

Despite the more intense rains, the sunshine pattern in Islamabad is the same as in Peshawar, so the sun often shines even in summer.
Islamabad - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours67781010989986

The Indus Plain is drier in the central part (zone B), where we find the Cholistan Desert. Here, precipitation drops even below 100 mm (4 in) per year.

Jacobabad

In Jacobabad, in the Sindh Province, only 110 mm (4.3 in) of rain fall per year, the majority of which occurring in July and August. Here is the average precipitation.
Jacobabad - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)3710225372611214110
Prec.(in)0.10.30.40.10.10.21.510.40.100.24.3
Days

In Jacobabad, winter is definitely mild, in fact, the average in January is 14 °C (57 °F), but with significant differences between day and night, so nights can be cold. On the other hand, in May and June, the daytime temperatures are around 45 °C (113 °F), but sometimes they can reach as high as 50/52 °C (122/126 °F): these values make Jacobabad one of the hottest cities in the world. The weakness of the monsoon in this area is evidenced by the fact that the maximum temperature remains around 42 °C (108 °F) in July and 40 °C (104 °F) in August, so it doesn't drop by much. Here are the average temperatures in Jacobabad.
Jacobabad - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)691521262929272517117
Max (°C)222632374445424039373124
Min (°F)434859707984848177635245
Max (°F)72799099111113108104102998875

At the latitude of Jacobabad, where weather fronts in winter pass very rarely, the sun shines regularly even in this season.
Jacobabad - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours888899889998

In this area, the ruins of Mohenjo-daro, one of the oldest cities in the world, are found.

Derawar Fort

Hyderabad

More to the south, in Hyderabad, in the Sindh province, the winter temperatures are even milder, while in summer, they are a little lower because of the proximity to the sea. Precipitation is still low, and amounts to 180 mm (7 in) per year, with a maximum of 60 mm (2.4 in) per month in July and August. Here are the average temperatures.
Hyderabad - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)111419232628282725221713
Max (°C)252834394240373637373226
Min (°F)525766737982828177726355
Max (°F)778293102108104999799999079

In Hyderabad, and in southern Pakistan in general, the sky is almost always clear in winter, while from June to August, the hours of sunshine decrease a little.
Hyderabad - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours9991010988101099

In the south-west, at the lowest altitudes of the plateau of Baluchistan (zone C), the climate is subtropical desert. Winter is mild, although sometimes at night it get cold, while summer is definitely hot. At around 800/1,000 meters (2,600/3,300 feet) above sea level, the average maximum temperatures in summer are around 40 °C (104 °F). Only in the south, there are some inland valleys around sea level: in Turbat, in the Kech River Valley, the average maximum in June is 44 °C (111 °F), which drops to 40 °C (104 °F) in July. This is a slight effect of the monsoon, which, however, brings very few rains: only 110 mm (4.3 in) per year, of which 25 mm (1 in) in July.
Turbat - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)111216212628272624201612
Max (°C)252733384344404039383227
Min (°F)525461707982817975686154
Max (°F)7781911001091111041041021009081

In the far south, along the coast of the Arabian Sea (zone D) the climate is tropical, since winter becomes milder, there is also one a reduced temperature range between winter and summer. Rainfall is at desert or semi-desert levels; it is lower, about 100 mm (4 in) per year in the western sector (ie the coastal region of Balochistan called Makran), which receives little rainfall from the summer monsoon (but in return it receives some rare rains in winter), while it is slightly more abundant, about 200 mm (8 in) per year, at the mouth of the Indus River, where the rains basically occur only from June to September.

Karachi

In Karachi, the megalopolis at the mouth of the Indus, the average temperature ranges from 18.5 °C (65.5 °F) in January to 31 °C (88 °F) in June. Here, winter is pleasant and sunny (although it can sometimes be cold during the night). In the months preceding the monsoon, there can be scorchingly hot days, with peaks of 42/44 °C (108/111 °F), but it's more common for the temperature to remain about 35 °C (95 °F), though with a high humidity. Here are the average temperatures.
Karachi - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)111318222628272625221712
Max (°C)262731343535333232343227
Min (°F)525564727982817977726354
Max (°F)798188939595919090939081

From June to September, the monsoon season, it doesn't rain a lot: about 160 mm (6.3 in), including 80 mm (3.2 in) in July, but here too, this season can be very rainy during certain years. In July and August, the weather is often cloudy and the heat is sweltering, especially in the interior of the city, while coastal districts receive a fairly steady breeze from the sea. Here is the average precipitation.
Karachi - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)5810507805520126203
Prec.(in)0.20.30.40.200.33.12.20.800.10.28
Days01000133100110

Although the rains in Karachi are not abundant, the sky in the monsoon period is often cloudy, especially in July and August; in winter, on the other hand, the sky is almost always clear.
Karachi - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours9999108557999

The temperature of the Arabian Sea is warm enough for swimming all year round, while it becomes very warm in summer. Here are the average sea temperatures near Karachi.
Karachi - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)242324262829292828282725
Temp (°F)757375798284848282828177

Tropical cyclones



The southern part of Pakistan can be affected by tropical cyclones, especially the south-east (coast of Sindh): Karachi, the large city located right on the coast, is the most at risk; sometimes the coast of Makran can be interested as well, though more rarely. Cyclones form from May to November, and are more frequent at the beginning of the period (May-June) and a little less at the end (October-November). Particularly intense cyclones hit Pakistan in May 1999 and in June 2010 (the latter was called cyclone Phet).

Best Time



It's hard to find a period which is good for all of Pakistan. The best time to visit central and southern Pakistan (zones B, C, and D, where Karachi is located) is winter, from December to February. You can visit the northernmost lowland area (Punjab, zone A, where Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad are located) from November to March, and if you want, you can avoid the coldest months, choosing March and November.
In Quetta and in the mountain regions of the west (zone 2), you can choose April and October, bearing in mind that it can get cold at night.
For the mountains of the north too (zone 1), you can choose spring and autumn, but since spring on the south side is rainy, you may prefer autumn, in particular, October and November. For the north side, in the high mountain areas of the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, you may prefer the summer, from June to September.
As previously mentioned, the sea is warm enough to swim in throughout the year. However, given that the air temperature can be a bit cool from December to February, the best months to go to the beach are March and November.

What to pack



In winter: for the north at low altitude (Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi), bring spring/autumn clothes, a sweater and a warm jacket for the evening; a raincoat or umbrella especially in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Above a thousand meters (3,300 feet, see Abbottabad), bring warm clothes, such as a sweater, a warm jacket, and a raincoat or umbrella. In Kashmir, above 3,000 meters (9,800 ft), bring mountain clothes, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf, and gloves. In the center and south (Jacobabad, Sukkur, Hyderabad), spring/autumn clothes, a sweater and a jacket for the evening. On the southern coast (Karachi), spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a light jacket and a sweater for the evening. For Quetta and the western mountains, around 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), warm clothes, such as a sweater, a down jacket, and a hat.

In summer: for all areas at low altitude, from Islamabad to Karachi, bring tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a sun hat, a desert turban, and possibly a light raincoat or umbrella, which are more useful in the north, at the foot of the mountains. Above 1,000 meters (3,300 feet, see Quetta, Abbottabad), add a sweatshirt for the evening. For Kashmir, around 3,000 meters (9,800 ft), bring spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a sun hat, sunglasses, a sweater and a jacket for the evening; for higher altitudes, warmer clothes depending on altitude.
It's better for women to avoid low-cut dresses.
When visiting mosques, men must keep their shoulders and knees covered, and take off their shoes, while women should also cover their hair.