Scotland map

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.
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.
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 15/16 °C (59/61 °F) in the north-west, to 19 °C (66 °F) in Glasgow and Edinburgh. 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)2235710121210742
Max (°C)77101316182019161397
Min (°F)363637414550545450453936
Max (°F)454550556164686661554845

In Glasgow, precipitation amounts to 1,250 mm (49 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)15010511065656575901101451251351245
Prec.(in)5.94.14.32.62.62.633.54.35.74.95.349
Days171315121211121314171616167

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
Hours123465554321

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

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 from mid-May to mid-September.
In July and August, there is an increase in rainfall and a decrease in sunshine: the sunniest month is June, which, however, is cooler than the two midsummer months.
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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