This page presents Zimbabwe'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.
The country experiences its rainy season along with relatively high temperatures from October to March; and it encounters dry seasons with low temperatures from June to August. After the dry and cold season, the average temperature of the country ranges between 15°C and 25°C, for the latest climatology, 1991 – 2020.
During the same time period, the mean monthly precipitation of the country varies from 2mm to 160 mm, which resulted in an annual average rainfall of roughly 670 mm. Zimbabwe tends to receive less than average rainfall during the warm phase of ENSO (or El Niño) during the rainy season from October to March; and it often experiences more than average rainfall during the cool phase of ENSO (or La Nina) also during the rainy season. In addition, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) plays a vital role in driving rainfall seasonality and inter-annual variability. The country receives more rainfall when ITCZ moves further south, and vice versa. Furthermore, a scientific study has revealed that positive Indian Ocean Dipole/Zonal Mode (IODZM), also known as the anomalous positive Indian Ocean SST gradient, is strongly associated with rainfall deficits (or droughts) in the country.
- Mean temperature has increased by roughly 0.03°C/year from 1970 to 2016. The impact of the warming trend on the intensification of the droughts was more prominent during the Jan – March period.
- Northern and southern parts of the country experience warm temperature compared to central and eastern areas. The ground frost, an important seasonal marker for agriculture, takes place during dry and cool season (June – August), which peaks around late June and mid/late July.
- Mean annual precipitation exhibits a decreasing trend in the past decades. Late onset and early season cessation of the rainy or growing season has been observed for all the agro-ecological regions.
- On average, southern Zimbabwe (300 – 500 mm) receives less rainfall than the northern (700 – 1000 mm) and eastern (above 1000 mm) parts of the country.