Weather and climate in KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal enjoys sunshine year-round with a temperate, sub-tropical climate. Despite its varied topography from the 3,000-metre peaks of the Drakensberg in the west to the sub-tropical wetlands of the Elephant Coast in the north-east, the province enjoys hot and humid summers (October –April) and mild winters (May – September).
In general, the coast is subtropical with sea temperatures around the low 20°C and seldom dropping below 19°C. The inland regions become progressively cooler further west particularly at night.
Durban’s temperate, sub-tropical climate is famous for its mild and sunny winters with up to 320 days of sunshine annually. Temperatures range from 16°-25°C during the winter months but can reach 32C with relatively high humidity in summer and an annual rainfall of 1009 mm peaking in January and February. The hottest and coldest months in Durban are February and July with average temperatures around 28°C and 23°C respectively. January is the most humid month and July the driest.
The city’s weather is blessed with the benign effects of the Indian Ocean’s equatorial current, a vast body of warm, blue water flowing south from neighbouring Mozambique to the north. Coastal seawater temperatures are higher than the Mediterranean in summer (24°C) but even in winter rarely fall below 19°C which is ten degrees warmer than the Med in winter.
The south coast climate is very similar to Durban itself while north of the city the summer weather is generally more humid the further north you travel. Summer temperatures vary from 24°-32°C and winter temperatures average 20°C. Sea temperatures vary from 18°-25°C in winter.
Average rainfall for the year is around 900mm. The Zululand north coast has the warmest climate while the wetlands environment of the iSimangaliso Park between St Lucia and Kosi Bay makes for high humidity during the summer months.
Midlands & Zululand
Both regions have a mild climate with relatively high summer rainfall and dry winters but while the weather is generally predictable, it’s perfectly possible to experience all four seasons in a day at any time of year. In general, the temperature drops the further inland you go. Ladysmith in the Tugela River Valley can reach 30°C in summer, but can drop below 0°C in winter overnight while further east, the climate of the capital Pietermaritzburg is similar to the coast in summer, but much cooler in winter.
The elevation of the Drakensberg with many peaks over 3000 metres means that temperatures year-round are more moderate than the coastal regions.
During the rainy summer season, daily thunderstorms are likely and continuous rain for up to a week is not unknown but these are interspersed by long sunny stretches. Snow on the higher peaks is also not unusual during the summer months.
The Drakensberg can experience heavy winter snow with temperatures plummeting below 0°C at night while the weather is often dry and pleasantly warm during the day. The autumn months of April and May have the most pleasant climate. Spring is also very beautiful with wild flowers in full bloom.
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