This page presents Lesotho's climate context for the current climatology, 1991-2020, derived from observed, historical data. Information should be used to build a strong understanding of current climate conditions in order to appreciate future climate scenarios and projected change. You can visualize data for the current climatology through spatial variation, the seasonal cycle, or as a time series. Analysis is available for both annual and seasonal data. Data presentation defaults to national-scale aggregation, however sub-national data aggregations can be accessed by clicking within a country, on a sub-national unit. Other historical climatologies can be selected from the Time Period dropdown list. Data for specific coordinates can be downloaded for in the Data Download page.
Observed, historical data is produced by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of University of East Anglia. Data is presented at a 0.5º x 0.5º (50km x 50km) resolution.
Lesotho’s climate is generally classified as temperate with alpine characteristics. The country experiences hot summers and relatively very cold winters. Temperatures tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes mainly due to the higher elevations. Four distinct seasons are recognized, with large fluctuations in temperature and very erratic rainfall. Its location exposes the country to the influences of both the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans, with wide differences in temperature. Annual precipitation is highly variable both temporally and spatially, ranging from 500 mm to 760 mm. Temperatures are highly variable on diurnal, monthly, and annual time scales, generally ranging between 10°C and 30°C. High winds of up to 20 meters per second can sometimes be received during summer thunderstorms.
Based on the latest climatology, 1991-2020, mean annual temperature for Lesotho is 12.8°C, with average monthly temperatures ranging between 15°C (November to March) and 6°C (June, July). Mean annual precipitation is 761.2 mm, with highest rainfall occurring October to April, with extremely low levels of precipitation occurring between May to September.
In Lesotho, high aridity and periods of intense drought exacerbate the loss of biological diversity, deterioration of rangelands and reduce crop and animal productivity via desertification, make the country increasingly vulnerable. The productivity of major crops and animals has declined significantly in recent years due to poor land and rangeland conditions. The high evaporation rate and the virtual absence of permanent surface water over large parts of the country combine to make water a scarce resource, with some projections indicating that even without climate change impacts, water resources will be reduced significantly. Primary challenges are centered around water resource availability, changing precipitation patterns and increasing population demands. Climatic and socio-economic environments in semi-arid areas in Lesotho make communities vulnerable to food insecurity and livelihoods and lead to unsustainable agroecological systems, crop failure and unproductive rangelands.