The weather in Scotland is known to be fickle, wet and dreary but what is the weather really like? What time of year does the best weather in Scotland generally occur and what should you pack to deal with the weather?
Scottish Weather Through the Year
Spring Weather in Scotland
Let’s start with spring, since it’s mid-April as I’m writing this. Daytime temperatures in March, April and May tend not to be too warm. The temperature in Scotland during the day can vary from around 4degC to around 13degC with the occasional warmer day up to around 18degC. Night time temperatures tend to hover around 0degC but can go a few degrees colder. Winds in spring are generally not that bad but you can have occasional gales at any time, but more likely in March than April or May. Rain is definitely a feature of springtime and heavy showers can be frequent. Any time until the end of April, especially in the Highlands you can get snow or hail showers. These generally don’t lie except on the mountains. May often has good long settled spells without bad rain or particularly cold nights and because the midges haven’t come out yet it is one of the best months to visit Scotland weather-wise.
Summer Weather in Scotland
In summer in Scotland temperatures get slightly warmer reaching an average around 18-22degC during the day. Night time temperatures will usually drop to around 10degC. June can be fairly settled often with long spells of good weather. Rain can be on the horizon at any time though so bear that in mind if you are planning to be outdoors. From June until the end of August, Scottish midges are around on the west coast and in the Highlands of Scotland. Even if the weather is good, the midge can make life intolerable out of doors so some kind of midge protection is advisable.
Autumn weather in Scotland
Autumn weather in Scotland can be spectacular. When a high pressure sites over the country, the combination of blue skies, cool crisp temperatures and autumn foliage on the trees make for a memorable experience. Temperatures in daytime tend to site around 5-13degC. Rain and high winds happen frequently and can make life out of doors miserable, but if you happen to visit when the sky is blue, make sure you have your camera handy.
Winter weather in Scotland
Winter in Scotland is often not as cold as you might expect given the latitude of the country. The Gulf Stream keeps the weather a lot warmer than you might find in Russia or Canada at equivalent latitudes. Daytime temperatures in winter can vary from around -2degC to 10degC although very occassionaly it gets colder. Night times are often frosty and temperatures of -5degC are frequent. On the mountains, snow can occur at any time through the winter, though at lower elevations, it tends to be rain more than snow. We do get snow occasionally, but roads departments are well equipped to handle it and get most routes open quickly after a snowstorm. Long nights and short days are a particular feature of winter.
Scottish Weather Resources
Mountain Weather Information Service – Top notch mountain weather forecasts. This is by far the best weather forecasting we can find for scotland’s mountains. Between this forecast and the avalanche information service below, you have all you need.
Scottish Avalanche Information Service – forecasts and records avalanche danger in major climbing areas