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Average Weather in McMurdo Station Antarctica

In McMurdo Station, the temperature typically varies from -18°F to 33°F over the course of the year, and is rarely below -30°F or above 38°F.

The warm season lasts for 77 days, from November 22 to February 7, with an average daily high temperature above 24°F. The hottest day of the year is January 5, with an average high of 33°F and low of 25°F.

The cold season lasts for 163 days, from April 18 to September 28, with an average daily high temperature below -1°F. The coldest day of the year is August 11, with an average low of -18°F and high of -9°F.

Average High and Low Temperature

The daily average high (red line) and low (blue line) temperature with percentile bands, with 25th to 75th and 10th to 90th percentile bands. The thin dotted lines are the corresponding average perceived temperatures.

The figure below shows you a compact characterization of the entire year of hourly average temperatures. The horizontal axis is the day of the year, the vertical axis is the hour of the day, and the color is the average temperature for that hour and day.

Average Hourly Temperature

12 AM4 AM8 AM12 PM4 PM8 PM12 AMJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecfrigidfrigidfreezingfreezing
The average hourly temperature, color coded into bands: frigid < 15°F < freezing < 32°F < chilly < 45°F < cold < 55°F < cool < 65°F < comfortable < 75°F < warm < 85°F < hot < 95°F < sweltering. The shaded overlays indicate night and civil twilight.

Sun

Due to its extreme latitude, McMurdo Station experiences polar day (also known as the midnight Sun) during the summer and polar night during the winter. These are periods of time in which the sun is continuously above or below the horizon for more than one day. The precise start and end dates of polar day and night vary from year to year and depend on the precise location and elevation of the observer, and the local topography.

In the summer in McMurdo Station during 2017, the Sun is continuously above the horizon for 119 days, rising at 2:04 AM on October 23, and not setting again until 1:23 AM on February 20.

In the winter in McMurdo Station during 2017, the Sun is continuously below the horizon for 116 days, setting at 1:22 PM on April 24, and not rising again until 12:14 PM on August 19.

Hours of Daylight and Twilight

The number of hours during which the Sun is visible (black line). From bottom (most yellow) to top (most gray), the color bands indicate: full daylight, twilight (civil, nautical, and astronomical), and full night.

Daylight saving time (DST) is observed in McMurdo Station during 2017, starting in the spring on September 24 and ending in the fall on April 2.

Sunrise & Sunset with Twilight and Daylight Saving Time

The solar day over the course of the year 2017. From bottom to top, the black lines are the previous solar midnight, sunrise, solar noon, sunset, and the next solar midnight. The day, twilights (civil, nautical, and astronomical), and night are indicated by the color bands from yellow to gray. The transitions to and from daylight saving time are indicated by the 'DST' labels.

Clouds

In McMurdo Station, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.

The clearer part of the year in McMurdo Station begins around October 17 and lasts for 184 days, ending around April 19. On December 14, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 58% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 42% of the time.

The cloudier part of the year begins around April 19 and lasts for 181 days, ending around October 17. On August 5, the cloudiest day of the year, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 70% of the time, and clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 30% of the time.

Cloud Cover

clearerclearerclearerclearercloudiercloudier0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAug 570%Aug 570%Dec 1442%Dec 1442%Oct 1756%Oct 1756%Apr 1957%Apr 1957%overcastovercastmostly cloudymostly cloudymostly clearmostly clearclearclear
The percentage of time spent in each cloud cover band, categorized by the percentage of the sky covered by clouds: clear < 20% < mostly clear < 40% < partly cloudy < 60% < mostly cloudy < 80% < overcast.

Precipitation

McMurdo Station does not experience significant seasonal variation in the frequency of wet days (i.e., those with greater than 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation). The frequency ranges from 0% to 3%, with an average value of 1%.

Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation throughout the year is snow alone, with a peak probability of 3% on February 9.

Daily Chance of Precipitation

The percentage of days in which various types of precipitation are observed, excluding trace quantities: rain alone, snow alone, and mixed (both rain and snow fell in the same day).

Snowfall

The sliding 31-day liquid-equivalent quantity of snowfall in McMurdo Station does not vary significantly over the course of the year, staying within 0.0 inches of 0.1 inches throughout.

Average Liquid-Equivalent Monthly Snowfall

The average liquid-equivalent snowfall (solid line) accumulated over the course of a sliding 31-day period centered on the day in question, with 25th to 75th and 10th to 90th percentile bands. The thin dotted line is the corresponding average rainfall.

Humidity

We base the humidity comfort level on the dew point, as it determines whether perspiration will evaporate from the skin, thereby cooling the body. Lower dew points feel drier and higher dew points feel more humid. Unlike temperature, which typically varies significantly between night and day, dew point tends to change more slowly, so while the temperature may drop at night, a muggy day is typically followed by a muggy night.

The perceived humidity level in McMurdo Station, as measured by the percentage of time in which the humidity comfort level is muggy, oppressive, or miserable, does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining a virtually constant 0% throughout.

Humidity Comfort Levels

0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecJul 30%Jul 30%drydry
The percentage of time spent at various humidity comfort levels, categorized by dew point: dry < 55°F < comfortable < 60°F < humid < 65°F < muggy < 70°F < oppressive < 75°F < miserable.

Wind

This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 meters above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.

The average hourly wind speed in McMurdo Station experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.

The windier part of the year lasts for 227 days, from March 25 to November 7, with average wind speeds of more than 6.1 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is June 2, with an average hourly wind speed of 8.1 miles per hour.

The calmer time of year lasts for 138 days, from November 7 to March 25. The calmest day of the year is December 30, with an average hourly wind speed of 4.1 miles per hour.

Average Wind Speed

The average of mean hourly wind speeds (dark gray line), with 25th to 75th and 10th to 90th percentile bands.

The predominant average hourly wind direction in McMurdo Station is from the south throughout the year.

Wind Direction

0%20%40%60%80%100%JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecsouthsouthnorthnorthwestwesteasteast
The percentage of hours in which the mean wind direction is from each of the four cardinal wind directions (north, east, south, and west), excluding hours in which the mean wind speed is less than 1 mph. The lightly tinted areas at the boundaries are the percentage of hours spent in the implied intermediate directions (northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest).

Water Temperature

McMurdo Station is located near a large body of water (e.g., ocean, sea, or large lake). This section reports on the wide-area average surface temperature of that water.

The average water temperature does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining within 1°F of 30°F throughout.

Average Water Temperature

The daily average water temperature (purple line) with percentile bands, with 25th to 75th and 10th to 90th percentile bands.

Solar Energy

This section discusses the total daily incident shortwave solar energy reaching the surface of the ground over a wide area, taking full account of seasonal variations in the length of the day, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon, and absorption by clouds and other atmospheric constituents. Shortwave radiation includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation.

The average daily incident shortwave solar energy experiences very significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.

The brighter period of the year lasts for 67 days, from November 18 to January 24, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter above 6.7 kWh. The brightest day of the year is December 19, with an average of 8.5 kWh.

The darker period of the year lasts for 201 days, from March 13 to September 30, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter below 1.7 kWh. The darkest day of the year is May 11, with an average of 0.0 kWh.

Average Daily Incident Shortwave Solar Energy

The average daily shortwave solar energy reaching the ground per square meter (orange line), with 25th to 75th and 10th to 90th percentile bands.

Topography

For the purposes of this report, the geographical coordinates of McMurdo Station are -77.846 deg latitude, 166.676 deg longitude, and 0 ft elevation (map ).

The topography within 2 miles of McMurdo Station contains very significant variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 965 feet, and an average elevation above sea level of 214 feet. Within 10 miles also contains very significant variations in elevation (1,342 feet). Within 50 miles contains extreme variations in elevation (12,244 feet).

The area within 2 miles of McMurdo Station is covered by artificial surfaces (0%), within 10 miles by artificial surfaces (0%), and within 50 miles by artificial surfaces (0%).

Data Sources

This report illustrates the typical weather in McMurdo Station, based on a statistical analysis of historical hourly weather reports and model reconstructions from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016.

Temperature and Dew Point

There is only a single weather station, Williams Field, in our network suitable to be used as a proxy for the historical temperature and dew point records of McMurdo Station.

At a distance of 4 kilometers from McMurdo Station, closer than our threshold of 150 kilometers, this station is deemed sufficiently nearby to be relied upon as our primary source for temperature and dew point records.

The station records are corrected for the elevation difference between the station and McMurdo Station according to the International Standard Atmosphere , and by the relative change present in the MERRA-2 satellite-era reanalysis between the two locations.

Please note that the station records themselves may additionally have been back-filled using other nearby stations or the MERRA-2 reanalysis.

Other Data

All data relating to the Sun's position (e.g., sunrise and sunset) are computed using astronomical formulas from the book, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets , by Jean Meeus.

All other weather data, including cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar flux, come from NASA's MERRA-2 Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis . This reanalysis combines a variety of wide-area measurements in a state-of-the-art global meteorological model to reconstruct the hourly history of weather throughout the world on a 50-kilometer grid.

Land Use data comes from the Global Land Cover SHARE database , published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Elevation data comes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) , published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Names, locations, and time zones of places and some airports come from the GeoNames Geographical Database .

Time zones for aiports and weather stations are provided by AskGeo.com .