Scottish Weather and Climate

Scotland's climate is generally cool and wet. It is influenced by the North Atlantic Drift, a warm sea current from the Caribbean, which keeps Scotland's coast ice free in winter. The climate is oceanic, with no extreme variations or exceptional events like tornadoes, droughts or widespread floods, but the day to day weather can vary enormously and unpredictably, and is a national source of daily conversation.

The east coast has a marginally more continental
climate than the west, with drier weather, sunnier summers and colder winters.
The prevailing winds are from the west and southwest, and are constant and
important feature in the islands and high hills.


Due to the low pressure systems from the Atlantic Ocean and the hilly nature of
the terrain, Scotland is generally cloudier than England. Although some parts
like Fife, Angus, the Lothians, Dumfries, Ayrshire and Galloway gets an average
of over 1400 hours of sunshine per year. The coldest parts of Scotland are the
more mountainous areas, with an average of only 1100 hours of sun per year.
These figures are at their highest in the months of May and June and at their
lowest in December. The high latitude of Scotland means that although winter
days are very short, summer days are very long with an extended twilight and
on the longest day there no complete darkness in the north region of Scotland.


Many people think that the whole of Scotland experiences high rainfall, in fact,
the rainfall in Scotland varies extensively, ranging from 3000mm per year in
the western Highlands and to under 800mm per year near the east coast. The
wettest parts of Scotland experience an average of 250 days of rain per year,
whereas the driest parts only experience an average of about 150 days of rain
per year.


Most commonly the wind in Scotland blows in a south-west direction but it
changes markedly from day to day accordingly to weather systems.


January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the
daytime maximum temperatures that ranges of an average of around 5° to 7°C.
July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with temperatures
of an average 19°C. The temperatures in Scotland are generally a few degrees
cooler than in England because of the hilly terrain and the Atlantic Ocean.


The average number of days with snow falling in Scotland ranges from 15 to 20 days,
whereas on the peaks and mountains the average number of days with snow falling
is about 100 days.


Scotland often enjoys great visibility, although hill fog sometimes restricts the
visibility. Sea fog from the North Sea, known as “haar” also sometimes ruins what
would be a perfect day.

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