Pakistan: Weather Overview
Pakistan sits in the temperate zone in the monsoon region. It has a seasonal climate with four seasons and is generally arid. The weather in Pakistan sees great regional contrasts. The coastal regions alongside the Arabian Sea, for instance, are generally hot in summer and warm in the winter, while the icy snow-bound edges of the Karakoram districts and all other mountainous areas in the north are only reachable by first-class climbers for a minimal of three weeks in May and June every year, due to the freezing cold temperatures all year round. The climate in Pakistan is very diverse due to the difference in elevation from the south to the north. The highland areas experience much cooler and temperate weather than the coast which is hot and humid, though lowland areas away from the coast do not benefit form the moderating effects of the sea and become unbearably hot. Rainfall generally decreases the further north you travel, away from the Arabian Sea, though of course is higher on mountains.
There are four distinct seasons in Pakistan; from December through to February a cool, dry winter takes place, from March until May a hot, dry spring is featured, from June until September experiences the rainy summer season, or southwest monsoon season, and throughout October and November the retreating monsoon season takes place. When the seasons start and finish does fluctuate minimally accordancing to locality.
Cool, Dry Season (Winter: December - February)
This season sees clear skies, sunny days and generally fine weather with low relative humidity which leads to a vast variation in temperature from day to night. Day time temperatures are generally considered most pleasant in winter as it doesn’t get too hot, but in some regions night time temperatures can be very cold and frosts are common away from the coast. Winter sees a great variation in precipitation across the country, low for the most part but high in the mountains, usually falling as snow.
Hot, Dry Season (Spring: March - May)
For the majority of days throughout the spring the weather is hot and dry. Across the north of the country at relatively low-lying areas average highs in the mid 30s are seen, while to the north the average high often sits around 40ºC. The maximum temperature ever recorded was in June 1969 in Jaccababad when the temperature reached a scorching 53ºC. Whilst the inland areas are burning hot, the coastline seems to keep cooler thanks to cooling sea breezes.
Rainy Season (Summer: June - September)
The southwest monsoon starts at the beginning of July and reaches its peak in mid July. While the power of the monsoon increases throughout July, it then plateaus and starts receding at the end of August. September, however, has seen some of the worst floods experienced in the Indus Basin. While most of Pakistan sees very wet weather throughout the monsoon, the mountains block the southwest winds and prevent their passage to areas to their north and east.
Post Monsoon Season (Autumn: October - November)
This season sees temperatures and rainfall reducing. Day times are still warm to hot while nights are cool to warm. Rainfall throughout this time is very sporadic, beginning to decrease towards the end of November.
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and it sits on the Iranian Plateau. It is extremely arid and the terrain is usually either desert or mountain. Summers are extremely hot with temperatures sometimes reaching into the 50s. Winters are extreme in the north but mild towards the coast. This region is exceptionally windy. This is not a hospitable environment and the few populated areas hug rivers and streams.
Sindh is also very dry and sees an annual average of 180mm of rain per year, yet it is also prone to severe flooding as rivers swell with rain that falls on northern Pakistan. Temperatures decrease towards the south and humidity increases. Karachi sits on the south coast. It is Pakistan’s largest city and also the country’s industrial core. Karachi sees a relatively temperate climate with milder temperatures year round than in more northerly locations, largely due to its position on the Arabian Sea. A very small 25mm of rain falls in the Karachi area throughout the months of July and August, and the ten remaining months are almost completely dry. Karachi typically experiences temperatures varying from average daily lows of 12ºC and highs of 27ºC throughout the wintertime, to lows of 27 ºC and highs of 34ºC in the summer. This is exceptionally hot and as humidity is very high it really is quite unbearable. It is beautifully sunny year round in this region and the sea is always warm enough for swimming.
Peshwar sits on the Iranian Plateau and has a semi-arid climate. It is not affected by the monsoon season as the Himilayas block the passage of the rain-bearing winds: rainfall is low and more evenly distributed across the year. It sees an annual average of 400mm of rain. Gilgit, in the north of the region, sits in a desert region and sees average highs of 36ºC and average lows of 19ºC in the peak of summer, and average highs of 10ºC and average lows of -3ºC in the depths of winter. While it rarely rains it can often be overcast and sunshine levels in winter are around half those in the summer.
Punjab (Central East)
Punjab sees very different conditions from north to south with baking deserts in the south and cool hills in the north. Lahore, the capital of the region in the northeast, sees average highs of 40ºC and average lows of 27ºC in June, the hottest month in the year. In January, the coldest month in winter, it sees average highs of 20ºC and average lows of 7ºC. Rainfall follows monsoon patterns, with the majority of rain falling in July and August.
Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, is much further north than Lahore. It experiences average highs of 39ºC and average lows of 24ºC in June, and average highs around 18ºC, and average lows of 2ºC in January. Over half of the yearly rainfall falls between July and August, averaging a total of approximately 510mm during the two months. The remaining ten months of the year feature little rain equalling about 40mm per month. Hailstorms in Islamabad take place quite frequently throughout spring.
The weather in this region has become notably erratic and unpredictable for decades now. Sometimes the southwest monsoon season simply skips Punjab resulting in droughts and sometimes it is so severe that it causes extensive and disastrous flooding. In Lahore 221mm of rain was once received in a single day.
Jammu and Kashmir (Northeast)
In the south this region is hot and monsoonal, while in the north it is temperate with more evenly distributed rainfall. In the north a climate which has been compared to that of Switzerland exists and rainfall is highest between March and May.
Even though Pakistan is situated in the monsoon region, and the coastal areas do experience typical monsoon seasons, the country is generally arid, with an exception in the southern slope areas of the Himalayas and other mountainous regions which feature average annual rainfalls of anything between 760mm to 1270mm. The southern districts of the highlands see 1270mm of average rainfall per year, where in the rain shadow of the Himalayas precipitation is almost nonexistent, with a mere 160mm per year. In the western mountains and the nearby lowland regions the annual average rainfall ranges from 270mm to 760mm. A vast amount of precipitation experienced in the northern highland region is in the form of snow which feeds the lakes and rivers.