Asia Weather Overview

Asia accounts for almost a third of the world's earth surface. It is not physically separated from Europe, or in fact Africa, and is called a continent mainly for cultural and political reasons. It is bounded by the Arctic Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Due to its humongous size Asia has a diverse topography, from mountains to deserts to frozen tundra. It spans many different climatic zones from sub-arctic to tropical.

Western Asia, including countries such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Israel, the north and western regions of southern Asia, including Pakistan and India, northern regions of Eastern Asia, including Mongolia and northern China, and central Asia, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, are mostly arid, featuring extensive areas of desert. The weather in desert areas is characterised by large fluctuations in temperature from day to night, blistering summers, windy winters and low rainfall. In the summer, day time temperatures of 45°C drop down to a more acceptable temperature of around 25°C at night. Very early spring, and very late autumn months are the best times to visit as the gorgeous mid to high 20s are accompanied by cool nights. Winter sees day time temperatures around 20°C and night time temperatures dropping near freezing. Winter sees strong winds whipping up violent sand storms. The area's only rainfall is often seen in one or two heavy thunderstorms during winter months. Areas of higher altitude are accordingly cooler seeing frosts and light snow. Coastal areas have their temperatures moderated by the sea, often resulting in a dry Mediterranean climate.

The western area of Eastern Asia, including western China and northern regions of India, is composed mostly of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This is a vast elevated plateau, surrounded by mountains, that receives a harsh highland climate. The mountains prevent humid air from travelling over the plateau which results in lower temperatures and lower rainfall. The little precipitation that does occur often falls in the form of hailstorms. Southern areas are just warm enough to support grassland, but in the north, approaching Siberia, it can get down to -40°C.

The eastern side of Eastern Asia, including eastern China, Taiwan, northern Japan and northern Vietnam, and the northern regions of Southern Asia, including northern India, Nepal and Bhutan, is a warm, temperate or humid sub-tropical zone. This area receives, hot, humid summers with moderate rainfall, and mild to cold winters. All for seasons are in effect with blossoming springs, lush green summers, auburn autumns and stark winters. In Kathmandu in Nepal summer days see pleasant temperatures around the mid 20s, while in winter the day time average is around 10°C. Further east, at lower elevations, temperatures are higher, often seeing summers in the 30s. The whole area is subject to monsoons with monsoon season falling between June and August. Most of the rain falls in heavy downpours but wet weather can linger. Mountainous regions are always much cooler, often seeing snow, and coastal regions, on China's east coast, are usually warmer being that bit further south.

South Eastern Asia, including Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia, and the western side of India, enjoy a wet tropical climate with hot weather all year round and a pronounced monsoon season. These areas see summer temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s and winter temperatures in the mid 20s. Night times only cool off by a few degrees and humidity is always high. Rainfall is low out of the wet season which lasts from June till August. The wet season sees dramatic downpours and impressive thunderstorms. Modern cities are equipped with immense monsoon drains to accommodate these deluges, but even here flash flooding can occur and sometimes even landslides. High rainfall and humidity support extensive rainforests. In the dry season the beaches and reefs of South Eastern Asia are a pull for tourists from all over the world. While it is heavily developed there are still many pockets of unspoilt paradise.

Northern Asia is western Russia. The Ural Mountains divide European Russia from Asian Russia. Russia is the largest country in the world and is dominated by a humid continental climate in the southern half, and a sub-arctic climate in the north, with northern Russia lying within the Arctic Circle. Mountains in the south prevent warm air masses from entering Russia and the country is at the mercy of Artic weather fronts. Southern regions, due to their great distance from the sea and the moderating effects of sea winds, see large seasonal differences in temperature. Summer in these areas is surprisingly hot, with some far south regions being subtropical. Samara, in the south, sees average summer highs in the mid 20s. Spring and summer see the majority of this region's rain and are generally quite wet. Winter, what Russia is famous for, is decidedly harsh and difficult to acclimatise to. This extends to every part of the country. Far from the sea and with Arctic winds blowing in from the north, winter is long and unbearably cold. Samara, which sees the balmy summers mentioned above, sees average highs around -9°C in January, with average lows of -16°C. Rivers freeze across Russia, apart from in the sub-tropical extreme south. Further north, rivers may only be unfrozen for one-hundred days in a year. Even further north, in the Arctic Circle, permafrost rarely thaws. In the Arctic tundra trees cannot grow. The wind regularly gets up to 60 mph; desert-like precipitation levels fall in snow. In the summer, temperatures can get up to around 12°C, falling sometimes below freezing at night. Daylight, in northern areas, can last for months. In the winter, temperatures around -28°C are the norm and lows of -50°C don't surprise anyone. The darkness sets in and daylight can disappear for months.