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The Netherlands (Holland) - Climate and Weather

With cool summers and moderate winters, the Netherlands is said to have a temperate maritime climate, which is influenced by both the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. A temperate climate is one that offers distinct summer and winter seasons, and that’s certainly true of the Netherlands.

The influence of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean ensures that the winters aren’t usually too cold, whilst the summers aren’t typically too hot. It also means that there is always plenty of moisture in the air – which means plenty of showers.

Located between the area of high-pressure air masses centered on the Azores and the low-pressure region centered on Iceland, the Netherlands is an area of collision between warm and polar air masses – as a result, the weather is somewhat unsettled. Due to the small, flat dimensions of the country, however, the climate is mostly uniform across the country, although there is a slightly greater continentality in the inland areas, compared to the coastal areas which tend to be windier.

As a general rule, Dutch summers are warm with periods of changeable weather, whilst the winter months are relatively cold with occasional snow. Throughout the seasons, the country is often overcast, and you can expect to see clouds in the sky every day. In fact, on an average day, three-fifths of the sky is covered in cloud. Thick fog is also rather common in the winter, and on average frost occurs 60 days each year.

Thanks to this abundance of cloud cover, the average number of hours of sunshine in the Netherlands is relatively low, with May and June being the sunniest months.

Due to the country’s location, it often witnesses strong winds, gales, and uncomfortable weather caused by strong Atlantic low pressure systems, particularly in the autumn and winter months. Easterly winds can also bring continental weather, making the country warm in the summer but cold and clear in the winter with often sub-zero temperatures. As the Netherlands is relatively small, there isn’t generally much variation in the climate from region to region.

Based on the Koeppen-Geiger classification, the climate of the Netherlands is classed as Cfb – a warm temperate, humid climate with the average temperature in the warmest month being lower than 22 degrees Celsius, as well as four or more months with an average of over 10 degrees Celsius.

The Dutch weather is notoriously unpredictable – in the summer, one month could be hot and sunny, only for the next to be cool and rainy. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the usually cheerful Dutch population are known for their tendency to complain about the weather. This unpredictability is caused by the country’s seaside location, its lack of mountains, and the fact that it is often on the border between hot and cold weather. Any depressions that blow in from the sea are not stopped by mountain ranges – quite simply because there aren't any.

The average annual temperature in the Netherlands is approximately 10 degrees Celsius. The average daytime temperature varies from 2 – 6 degrees Celsius in the winter to 17 – 20 degrees Celsius in the summer time. In January, the average temperature in the country is approximately 2 degrees Celsius, whilst in January, the average monthly temperature is 19 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature ever recorded in the Netherlands since records began was 38.5 degrees Celsius in 1944, whilst the lowest was -27.40 in the same year.

Although the country’s unpredictable weather can often make it feel like it rains all the time, it doesn’t! In terms of rainfall, it is typically fairly stable throughout the year, with a dryer period between April and September. The average annual rainfall is 76.5cm, which is relatively high in comparison to other countries. In fact, the country only enjoys around 25 dry days each year. The average rainfall is highest in the autumn and the summer, particularly in August, whilst the lowest rainfall is usually recorded in the spring. On average, March is the driest month of the year.

This mild, damp climate makes the Netherlands perfect for dairy and livestock farming, however the limited hours of sunshine can limit the growth of crops. The country’s flat landscape also means that it is generally quite windy across the Netherlands – making it the perfect location for the wind farms the country has become famous for.

The possibility of extreme weather is extremely rare in the Netherlands. However, due to its flat landscape and low-lying position (‘Netherlands’ means 'low lying country'), sea storms and floods are common. Although at one time severe storms and floods would claim the lives of many – the floods in 1287, 1421, and 1953 were particularly bad – today there are measures in place to protect the land and its inhabitants from flooding, including an impressive system of dykes and numerous pumping stations positioned around the country.

Whatever you're doing when you move to the Netherlands, it’s important that you are appropriately dressed in order to remain comfortable, warm, and dry. In the summer months of June, July, and August you will usually be faced with a reasonable amount of sunshine and temperatures hovering around or just above 20-25 degrees Celsius during the day, so t-shirts, lightweight layers and a waterproof coat are recommended. In the winter months (December, January, and February), warmer, waterproof clothing, including hats, scarves, and gloves is required to accommodate the colder temperatures. Whatever the season, you should always ensure that you have an umbrella and a nice warm jumper to hand, just in case.

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