Andalusia Climate

Andalusia is home to the hottest and driest climates in Spain, with yearly average rainfall around 150 millimetres (5.9 in) in Cabo de Gata, as well as some of the wettest ones, with yearly average rainfall above 2,000 millimetres (79 in) in inland Cádiz. In the west, weather systems sweeping in from the Atlantic ensure that it is relatively wet and humid in the winter, with some areas receiving copious amounts. Contrary to what many people think, as a whole, the region enjoys above-average yearly rainfall in the context of Spain.

Andalusia sits at a latitude between 36° and 38° 44′ N, in the warm-temperate region. In general, it experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with dry summers influenced by the Azores High, but subject to occasional torrential rains and extremely hot temperatures. In the winter, the tropical anticyclones move south, allowing cold polar fronts to penetrate the region. Still, within Andalusia there is considerable climatic variety. From the extensive coastal plains one may pass to the valley of the Guadalquivir, barely above sea level, then to the highest altitudes in the Iberian peninsula in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. In a mere 50 km (31 mi) one can pass from the subtropical coast of the province of Granada to the snowy peaks of Mulhacén. Andalusia also includes both the dry Tabernas Desert in the province of Almería and the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the province of Cádiz, which experiences Spain’s greatest rainfall.

Annual rainfall in the Sierra de Grazalema has been measured as high as 4,346 millimetres (171.1 in) in 1963, the highest ever recorded for any location in Iberia. Andalusia is also home to the driest place in continental Europe, the Cabo de Gata, with only 117 millimetres (4.6 in) of rain per year.

In general, as one goes from west to east, away from the Atlantic, there is less precipitation. “Wet Andalusia” includes most of the highest points in the region, above all the Sierra de Grazalema but also the Serranía de Ronda in western Málaga. The valley of the Guadalquivir has moderate rainfall. The Tabernas Desert in Almería, Europe’s only true desert, has less than 75 days with any measurable precipitation, and some particular places in the desert have as few as 50 such days. Much of “dry Andalusia” has more than 300 sunny days a year.

The average temperature in Andalusia throughout the year is over 16 °C (61 °F). Averages in the cities range from 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) in Baeza to 19.1 °C (66.4 °F) in Almería. Much of the Guadalquivir valley and the Mediterranean coast has an average of about 18 °C (64 °F). The coldest month is January when Granada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada experiences an average temperature of 6.4 °C (43.5 °F). The hottest are July and August, with an average temperature of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F) for Andalusia as a whole. Córdoba is the hottest provincial capital, followed by Seville.

The Guadalquivir valley has experienced some of the highest temperatures recorded in Europe, with a maximum of 46.9 °C (116.4 °F) recorded at Córdoba (14 August 2021), and Seville. The mountains of Granada and Jaén have the coldest temperatures in southern Iberia, but do not reach continental extremes (and, indeed are surpassed by some mountains in northern Spain). In the cold snap of January 2005, Santiago de la Espada (Jaén) experienced a temperature of −21 °C (−6 °F) and the ski resort at Sierra Nevada National Park—the southernmost ski resort in Europe—dropped to −18 °C (0 °F). Sierra Nevada Natural Park has Iberia’s lowest average annual temperature, (3.9 °C or 39.0 °F at Pradollano) and its peaks remain snowy practically year-round.

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