Climate Climate

Orkney's climate

As well as the 'four seasons in one day' saying, many folk describe Orkney as having only two seasons a year! Long, bright days in the summer, and short, dark days in the winter. But there is a lot more to our weather than that...

As most local residents will know, Orkney weather can be very changeable, very quickly. Mornings that start sunny and still can develop with a cold wind or even hail storms and heavy rain. But change is a constant here and wind blows away showers more quickly than in other regions.

The two seasons a year adage relates to the light season in the summer when in June the skies barely get dark, while in winter there are short hours of daylight. Because of the influence of the Gulf Stream, the Orkney climate is very mild compared with places on the same latitude, such as Russia or northern Canada. Snow and frosts that hit mainland Britain are seldom present in Orkney. An occasional light sprinkling of powder on the Hoy Hills just adds to the picturesque view. There is only a 10 degree Celsius difference between the summer average temperature of 15C and the winter of 5C.

Winters are on the wet side and strong winds and gales are frequent. The wind is quieter in the summer but a breeze is almost always a feature - good news as it keeps midges away! Occasionally in the summer, fog or sea-haar will linger round the coast, mainly in the east, while the west may be basking in sunshine.

Nowhere can beat Orkney’s magical skies and landscape on a fine day. Its beauty is undiminished by air pollution and the quality of the clear northern light is a magnet to artists. On a fine night, spectacular aurora borealis displays take the breath away.