Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons in Cyprus. The days are generally warm and sunny, but without the enervating heat of mid-summer. Visitors should include a pullover and/or a lightweight jacket in their travel wardrobe for strolls in the cool of the evening, or when dining at the open-air restaurants. The winter months are by no means to be avoided: the air is fresh, and the skies are often clear and sunny. However, the evenings can be chilly, and of course the days are shorter. Warmer clothes are obviously called for.
Average water and air temperatures (0C)
Month Water Air Month Water Air
January 16 14 July 26 29
February 17 14 August 28 29
March 17 15 September 27 25
April 19 18 October 25 25
May 21 21 November 22 18
June 24 24 December 19 13
This is certainly not true for the summer months: during July and August, visitors will need only the lightest and loosest clothing. The sun can be very strong, and care should be taken to avoid sunburn, by progressive exposure to the sun, and the use of sunscreen lotions.
Temperatures in the interior of the island tend to be more extreme than those in the coastal areas, which are moderated by the sea, and offshore breezes.
TRNC has an intense Mediterranean climate with the typical seasonal rhythms strongly marked in respect of temperature, rainfall and weather generally. Hot, dry summers from mid-May to mid-October and rainy, rather changeable winters from mid-November to mid-March are separated by short autumn and spring seasons of rapid change in weather conditions. The long narrow Besparmak mountain range, play an important part in the meteorology of TRNC. The predominantly clear skies and extensive sunshine give large seasonal and daily differences between temperatures of the sea and the interior of the island which also cause considerable local effects especially near the coast.At Latitude 35 degrees north and Longitude 33 degrees east, TRNC has a change in day-length from 9.8 hours in December to 14.5 hours in June. In summer the TRNC is mainly under the influence of a shallow trough of low pressure extending from the great continental depression centered over southwest Asia. It is a season of high temperatures with almost cloudless skies. Rainfall is negligible but isolated thunderstorms sometimes occur giving rainfall amounting to less than 5% of the total in the average year. In winter, TRNC is near the track of fairly frequent small depressions which cross the Mediterranean Sea from west to east between the continental anti-cyclone of Eurasia and the generally low pressure belt of North Africa. These depressions give periods of disturbed weather usually lasting for a day or so and produce most of the annual precipitation, the average amount from December to February being nearly two thirds of the year`s total.
The narrow ridge of the Besparmak range, stretching 100 miles from east to west along the extreme north of the island, produces a relatively small increase of rainfall to nearly 550 millimetres along its ridge at about 1,000 metres. The average annual rainfall is about 500 millimetres but it was as low as 213 millimetres in 1972/73 and as high as 800 millimetres in 1968/69. Statistical analysis of rainfall in Cyprus reveals a decreasing trend of rainfall amounts in the last decades. Snow occurs rarely in the lowlands and on the Besparmak range.
Hail and Thunder
Hail is reported on an average two or three times a year in the lowlands and probably three times as frequently on the mountains, usually between November and May, in most districts of Cyprus. Months most liable to have hailstorms are December to April but can occur, although rarely, in early summer and autumn, causing considerable damage to fruit crops. Thunder is rare from June to September but in other seasons is heard on average on four or five days per month from October to January and two or three days per month from February to May.
TRNC has a hot summer and mild winter but this generalization must be modified by consideration of altitude, which lowers temperatures by about 5 degrees C per 1,000 metres, and of marine influences which give cooler summers and warmer winters near most of the coastline and especially on the west coast.The seasonal difference between mid-summer and mid-winter temperatures is quite large at 18 degrees C in the inland areas and about 14 degrees C on the coasts. Differences between day maximum and night minimum temperatures are also quite large especially in the inland areas in summer. These differences are in winter 8 degrees C to 10 degrees C on the lowlands and 5 degrees C to 6 degrees C on the mountains increasing in summer to 16 degrees C in the central plain and 9 degrees C to 12 degrees C elsewhere.In July and August the mean daily temperature ranges between 29 degrees C on the central plain and 24 degrees C on the costal range, while the average maximum temperature for these months ranges between 36 degrees C and 31 degrees C respectively. In January the mean daily temperature is 10 degrees C on the central plain and 12 degrees C on the costal range with an average minimum temperature of 5 degrees C and 9 degrees C respectively. Frosts are rarely severe but are frequent in winter and spring inland and sometimes affect the economically important production of early vegetable crops and main citrus.
In the open sea, temperatures rise to 27 degrees C in August and are above 22 degrees C during the six months from June to November. During the three coolest months, January to March, average sea temperature falls only to 16 degrees C or 17 degrees C. Near all coasts, in water three or four metres deep, temperatures are very similar to those of the open sea and lie within the range 15 degrees C to 17 degrees C in February and 23 degrees C to 28 degrees C in August.There is no significant daily change of sea water temperature except on the coast in very shallow waters of less than one metre depth.
Seasonal change in mean soil temperatures is from about 10 degrees C in January to 33 degrees C in July at 10 centimetres depth and from 14 degrees C to 28 degrees C at one metre. Absorption of large amounts of solar energy during the day and high radiation losses with clear skies at night cause a wide daily range of soil temperatures in summer. At the soil surface the daily variation on a typical July day in the lowlands is between 15 degrees C near dawn to about 60 degrees C in mid afternoon. At only 5 centimetres depth the variation is reduced to between 24 degrees C and 42 degrees C and at 50 centimetres depth there is no daily temperature change.
Humidity of the Air
Elevation above mean sea level and distance from the coast have considerable effects on the relative humidity which to a large extent are a reflection of temperature differences. Humidity may be described as average or slightly low at 65% to 95% during winter days and at night throughout the year. Near midday in summer it is very low with values on the central plain usually a little over 30% and occasionally as low as 15%. Fog is infrequent and usually confined to the early mornings but there are longer periods in the mountains in winter when cloud often envelopes the highest peaks. Visibility is generally very good or excellent but on a few days each spring the atmosphere is very hazy with dust brought from the Arabian and African deserts.
All parts of TRNC enjoy a very sunny climate. In the central plain and eastern lowlands the average number of hours of bright sunshine for the whole year is 75% of the time that the sun is above the horizon. Over the whole six summer months there is an average of 11.5 hours of bright sunshine per day whilst in winter this is reduced only to 5.5 hours in the cloudiest months, December and January. Even on the mountains the cloudiest winter months have an average of nearly 4 hours of bright sunshine per day and in June and July the figure reaches 11 hours.
Over the eastern Mediterranean generally surface winds are mostly westerly or southwesterly in winter and northwesterly or northerly in summer. Usually of light or moderate strength, rarely reaching of that of gale force.Over the island of Cyprus winds are quite variable in direction with orography and local heating effects playing a large part in the determination of local wind direction and strength. Differences of temperature between sea and land which are built up daily in predominant periods of clear skies in summer cause considerable sea and land breezes. Whilst these are most marked near the coasts they regularly penetrate far inland in summer reaching the capital, Lefkosa and often bringing a welcome reduction of temperature and also an increase in humidity.
Gales are infrequent over TRNC but may occur especially on exposed coasts with winter depressions. Small whirlwinds are common in summer appearing mostly near midday as "dust devils" on the hot dry central plain. Very rarely vortices, approaching a diameter of 100 metres or so and with the characteristics of water spouts at sea and of small tornadoes on land, occur in thundery weather. Localised damage caused by these has been reported on a few occasions but in general Cyprus suffers relatively little wind damage