Index


Introduction




In Scotland, the weather is very cool, damp, rainy, and windy for most of the year.
Precipitation is more abundant on the western side and on the highlands, where it even exceeds 1,500 mm (60 in) per year, while it's less abundant on the eastern side, where it drops to 600/700 mm (24/28 in): so Glasgow, located on the western side, is rainier than Edinburgh. However, the rains are common everywhere, and even in the summer months, there are more than ten days of rain per month on average.
The wind is more common in the western and northern side and on the islands: it's no coincidence that the main cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh) lie in the eastern or southern sides, which are relatively sheltered. However, when the most intense low pressure systems occur, the wind can be strong everywhere.
Fog can be formed in inland areas at night, in the rare periods in which an anticyclone dominates, in autumn and winter. In the Highlands, the landscape is often foggy due to the passage of low clouds. Instead, from April to September, sea fogs can form on the eastern coasts.
The Gulf Stream makes winter fairly mild, at least in comparison with other countries located at the same latitude: the average temperature in January and February is around 4/5 °C (39/41 °F). However, the northern location makes Scotland prone to cold winds from Greenland, which can bring snow showers and frosts, especially on the highlands, but these periods don't usually last long, and after a short time, the westerlies start to blow again.
During the most intense cold waves, the temperature has dropped to around -10 °C (14 °F) on the islands (for example, -11 °C or 12 °F in Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, -7 °C or 19.5 °F in Balivanich, in Benbecula, and -8 °C or 17.5 °F in Kirkwall, in Orkney). In the main cities, the cold records generally range from -17 °C or 1.5 °F (see Dundee) to -20 °C or -4 °F (see Glasgow). In inland areas, there are some valleys where even lower values have been reached: the cold record, which applies to all the British islands, is -27.2 °C (-17 °F), recorded both in Altnaharra, a northern village, in December 1995, and in Braemar, a town located 10 km (6 mi) from Balmoral Castle, in January 1982.
In spring, the temperature rises very slowly, so that it's still cold in April, when the maximum temperature is around 10/12 °C (50/54 °F). In return, spring is the sunniest season, albeit slightly.
Summer is very cool: the average maximum temperature in July and August ranges from 14 °C (57 °F) on the Shetland Islands, to 16 °C (61 °F) on the Orkney and Hebrides islands, to 19 °C (66 °F) in the main cities. Night temperatures are around 11/12 °C (52/53 °F). In Scotland, even the summer is a pretty rainy season, and sunshine in mid-summer (July and August) is even rarer than in early summer (June).
Autumn is cold, windy and rainy. The wind in Scotland is frequent, and sometimes can be very strong, especially in autumn and winter.

Glasgow

Here are the average temperatures of Glasgow, which as mentioned, is located on the western side.
Glasgow - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)11246911119641
Max (°C)6791215171919161296
Min (°F)343436394348525248433934
Max (°F)434548545963666661544843

In Glasgow, precipitation amounts to 1,300 mm (52 in) per year. The rains are frequent all year round, however, they are a little less frequent from April to July. Here is the average precipitation.
Glasgow - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)155110125656575801001251451301451320
Prec.(in)6.14.34.92.62.633.13.94.95.75.15.752
Days181317131112131214171816175

In Scotland, the sun is rarely seen all year round; however, the sunniest month is May. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in Glasgow.
Glasgow - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours133565554321

Highlands

In the Highlands, the weather is obviously colder, and snowfalls often occur in winter. Snow cover duration is remarkable because the temperature is not much higher in the other seasons. The wind in the Highlands is also more intense and frequent, as generally happens in mountainous regions.
For example, here are the temperatures of Glen Ogle, located at 565 meters (1,855 feet) above sea level.
Glen Ogle - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-1-2-114688641-1
Max (°C)33471012141412853
Min (°F)302830343943464643393430
Max (°F)373739455054575754464137

At higher altitudes, temperatures are even lower, as can be seen from the data of Cairngorm Mountain, at 1,245 meters (4,085 feet), where there is also a ski lift.
Cairn Gorm - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-6-6-5-3-12442-1-3-5
Max (°C)-1-2-12471097410
Min (°F)212123273036393936302723
Max (°F)302830363945504845393432

The highest peak in Scotland is Mount Ben Nevis, 1,344 meters (4,411 feet) high.

Loch Ness

The sea in Scotland is not so cold in winter, at least if we consider the latitude, while it remains cold in summer. Here are the average water temperatures at Aberdeen.
Aberdeen - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)877781113131211108
Temp (°F)464545454652555554525046

Best Time



The best time to visit Scotland is the summer, from June to August.
As mentioned, the sea is cold even in summer: in August, the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean reaches just 12 °C (53.5 °F) in the Shetlands and 13/14 °C (55/57 °F) on the coasts of Scotland.

What to pack



In winter: pack warm clothes, such as a sweater, a coat, a wind jacket, and a raincoat. For the Highlands and for colder periods: pack gloves, a hat, and a scarf.
In summer: pack clothes for spring and autumn, but also a jacket and a sweater, and a raincoat or umbrella.

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