South African Weather

The South African weather is related to the geographic layout of the country at the tip of Africa.

Due to having different climatic regions in South Africa, the weather is much different from region to region and weather extremes are no rarity. But expect to see plenty of blue sky in South Africa!

Blue sky over South Africa, image by Shutterstock

On our South African Weather page you will find information on:

  • the weather in Cape Town and the Western Cape 
  • the weather in the Highveld region around Johannesburg
  • the weather conditions in Durban and the East Coast
  • what to pack for your travels in South Africa

South African Weather:
Weather in Cape Town

According to a research of the UK’s National Physical Laboratory Cape Town has got the fifth best blue sky in the world.

The sky really looks as deep blue as in the image, most of the days of the year! The Western Cape is a winter-rainfall area and the summer rainfall is very low. In total, there are only 105 days per year where the monthly accumulated rainfall is more than 1 mm. The other two thirds of the year are practically dry.

However, especially in the coastal suburbs, you will notice a constant 'breeze', or wind in and around Cape Town; some areas are really windy like some city centre streets around the Civic Centre, especially when the South Easter blows. I actually was once blown off my feet there and swept across the sidewalk. Lucky that I cold find hold on a lamppost! The Cape Doctor, a strong south-easterly wind, hauls in the Mother City usually during November and December, but also occasionally during the other months of the year. It sweeps the city air clean of the pollution which is often visible as a brown hazy veil over the town.

The famous 'Table cloth' on Table Mountain is a cloud which sits on top of the mountain when the South Easter blows across False Bay to the Mountain. When the warmer air coming from the Southern peninsula hits the colder mountain air the cloud forms over Table Mountain and looks often like a waterfall pouring down the mountain, but dissolves quickly and vanishes.

More about Weather in Cape Town

South African Weather:
Weather in Johannesburg

The high veld, which also encompasses the area around Johannesburg, is in the summer-rainfall area. Here the winters are dry and cold, while in summer the temperatures can easily reach highs in the 30degrees Celsius during the day and afternoon thunderstorms are no rare occasion. 

The thunderstorms mostly only last a couple of hours, but the rainfall can be very strong, so be prepared when out and about. The winters in the high veld can be crisp and cold, even in daytime when the sun is out and the sky is blue, this weather will be experienced completely differently to winter days in Cape Town, where the daytime temperatures are really mild and seldom fall below 10degrees Celsius.

South African Weather:
Durban Weather

Along KwaZulu Natal's coastline the climate is predominantly humid. So expect rain- and thundershowers throughout the year. 

The Durban weather can change rapidly and often after a hot and humid day, there might be a change for some colder weather with rain showers for a day or two. As the far east of Kwazulu-Natal is malaria region, please take precautions throughout the year, especially however during the hotter summer months. 

The Kwazulu-Natal midlands have a more mild and temperate climate, whereas in the Drakensberg mountain region you can experience true winter temperatures and even snow in higher-lying areas.

Dressing for the Weather

You will be surprised how many South Africans wear furry boots, hats, scarfs and even gloves in winter, when the temperatures drop to the annual lows.

As there can be sometimes four seasons in a day, especially in Cape Town, it is advisable to always dress in many layers or what is known as the typical 'onion-look'. 

Put on many thin layers, so you feel comfortable when it is cold and you can 'peel off' the layers as the temperatures rise during the day.

So wear a sleeveless or short sleeved top underneath your Longarm T-Shirt underneath a shirt or sweatshirt underneath a fleece top or woolen sweater or jacket. That's how we dress and stay comfortabe with the changeable South Africa weather in winter. And try to stay warm indoors, with wearing warm slippers, boots and sweaters, as only few houses have got a central heating system such as underfloor heating or gas heaters.

Remember also that the winter nights can get quite cold, so you will need warm clothes and wooly sweaters for the evenings and bedtime. And if you go on safari in the Kalahari, make sure you have got summery t-shirts and shorts for daytime and fleecy clothing for night-time, as the starry clear nights can be extremely cold.

One thing you will rarely need is an umbrella, because when it rains it usually storms too. So there is not much use for an umbrella. Instead, it is a good idea, to invest in a good multipurpose windbreaker-rainjacket, especially if it is one of those lightweight ones.

Photo Credits for South African Weather: and own images

Read more on the Blue Sky Research (UK’s National Physical Laboratory) 

Back to Basics of South Africa Weather page

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