South America Weather Overview
South America is home to 12 countries including Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Venezuela. Occupying 3.5% of the Earth’s surface and 17,780,000 square kilometers, it is understandable as to why the area experiences a huge array of climatic conditions.
Venezuela lies in the very north of South America entirely in the tropics. Whilst its position suggests year round tropical conditions, its varied topography means that this is certainly not the case. At points of lower elevation the summers can get very hot and humid and daily highs can reach into the 30’s. In the highlands you can find glaciers and higher rainfall. At these higher altitudes the average annual temperature is a brisk 8°C.
The majority of the rain falls during the months of May to November which is the rainy season. The rest of the year is significantly drier and classed as summer though there is little seasonal temperature variation. Rainfall in Venezuela varies depending on elevation and proximity to the coast.
Taking up the large majority of the continent is Brazil, which is the fifth largest country in the world. While the majority of Brazil lies within the tropics, the country as a whole witnesses 5 different climate classifications. Along the equator, which cuts through Brazil, temperatures remain high year round and often reach into the 40s in the height of summer. In southern Brazil temperatures can get much cooler and snow fall is not uncommon in the winter months. The highest mountains are permanently sno-capped. Humidity is high in Brazil, particularly in the Amazon Rainforest. Most of the country’s rainfall falls during the summer months of December to March, which is also when humidity is at its highest.
Argentina stretches from the middle of the country to the farthest south of the continent. As it covers many latitudes it is subject to an astonishing range of climatic conditions. In the north conditions are be subtropical; in the middle the weather is best classified as temperate; and in the south conditions are sub polar. With 4,665 km of Atlantic coastline, the sea has a large moderating affect seen far inland.
As a rule, the north of Argentina is very hot in summer and fairly humid, whilst winters are cooler and significantly drier. The middle of Argentina has cool winters and is prone to severe and dramatic thunderstorms in the summer months. As you head south toward the Antarctic, winters become increasingly cold and see heavy snowfall, particularly at higher elevations.
Like parts of Northern Norway and Finland, in the summer months (December, January and February in the southern hemisphere) the country sees long periods of extended daylight, witnessing up to 19 hours of sunlight per day in the height of summer. On the flipside, the winter months see shorter days and longer nights.
Chile, much like Argentina, stretches across a large range of latitudes, so it witnesses a wide range of climates: desert in the north and sub polar in the very south. Central Chile sees a Mediterranean climate which is most pleasant in the spring and summer months. The Atacama Desert which lies in the north of the country is the world’s driest non-Arctic area; it is arid and bare as it is blocked from moisture on both sides by the Andes Mountains and by the Chilean Coast Range.