Skip to main content

Key points

  • Namibia's climate is dominated by two anticyclonic air systems, and the cold Benguela Current. Seasonal changes occur as the two anticyclones move in relation to the advancing and retreating Intertropical Convergence Zone, which is a band of warm, humid air. The influence of frontal weather systems is largely limited to the southern parts of the country during the winter months.
  • The cold ocean current and its associated upwelling centres result in mild sea surface temperatures throughout the year with the lowest temperatures recorded between the months of July and September.
  • Winds at the coast are persistently strong and predominantly from a southerly direction. Wind speeds in the afternoon are stronger than in the morning and evening, and are lower and more variable further inland. In winter, hot, dry easterly winds are common; wind speeds usually build up from the small hours, peak in the late morning and subside in the afternoon.
  • Fog occurs frequently along the coast and can extend more than 100 kilometres inland. Fog occurs when a layer of moist air is trapped between subsiding anticyclonic air and the cold ocean surface. It usually forms at night and dissipates during the day.
  • Average annual rainfall ranges from less than 20 millimetres in the west to more than 650 millimetres in northeastern Namibia. The extreme southwestern parts of the country receive very little rainfall, which can fall at any time of the year. The eastern parts of Namibia receive heavier and more frequent falls of rain than the rest of the country.
  • In all, except the extreme southern parts of the country, rain is strongly seasonal with most falling between November and April. Peak rain months vary across the country between January in the east and March in the west.
  • Rainfall seasons are highly variable both in total amounts of rain received and the spread of rainfall during the season. The highest variability in annual rainfall is seen in the northwestern and central-western areas of Namibia, where average annual rainfall is low (<100 millimetres). Although rainfall is similarly low in southern Namibia, variability here is moderated by rain from frontal weather systems.
  • Coastal areas experience an average of 5–7 hours of sunshine per day as a consequence of fog and cloud. Most inland areas experience more than 8 hours of sunshine per day. The difference in day length between the shortest and longest days is about two hours in the north and three-and-a-half hours in the south of the country.
  • The southern and western parts of the country, with the exception of the coastal margin, receive the most direct solar radiation.
  • Average maximum temperatures range from 22 degrees Celsius to more than 36 degrees Celsius with the highest average maximum temperatures recorded in the east. Some of the coldest temperatures are recorded in the south of the country, particularly along the southern escarpment where average minimum temperatures drop below 2 degrees Celsius.
  • Average annual temperatures are highest in the north and northeast, and are lowest along the southern escarpment and in the southern desert areas. Average daily temperature range at the coast is less than 10 degrees Celsius throughout the year, but inland it can be greater than 20 degrees Celsius in the winter months. Average annual temperature can be misleading as it is moderated by large diurnal and seasonal temperature ranges which are experienced across much of the country.
  • Close to the coast relative humidity is high and fairly consistent throughout the year due to the prevalence of fog. Further inland, however, relative humidity is generally less than 20 per cent in the dry season in the afternoon increasing to over 70 per cent in the wet season early in the day.
  • The potential water loss through evapotranspiration far exceeds the amount of water received through annual rainfall. As a consequence, the far northeastern areas of the country are considered semi-arid, other areas east of the escarpment are considered arid and areas west of the escarpment and the southwest corner of Namibia are considered hyper-arid.
  • Projected changes in rainfall over the next 40 years suggest a 9 per cent decrease across the country. Average temperatures are expected to increase, more so in the eastern parts of the country (by more than 3 degrees Celsius) than in the west.