Climate of Kazakhstan
Where is the country of Kazakhstan located? The Republic of Kazakhstan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, is the eighth largest country in the world by area. The western tip of Kazakhstan belongs to continental Europe, while the country borders the People’s Republic of China to the east. The country, which is more than 2.7 million square kilometers in size, has only more than fifteen million inhabitants. The population density is extremely low with less than 6 inhabitants per square kilometer if you compare it with the Netherlands, where about 400 inhabitants live on a square kilometer of surface. The low population density is partly caused by the topographical location and the climate, which makes life in some parts of Kazakhstan less attractive to say the least. Living in an area where temperatures can drop to minus thirty to minus forty degrees in the winter months and where it can sometimes get sweltering hot in the summer months will not be attractive to everyone. On the other hand, Kazakhstan has a lot to offer in terms of raw materials. The soil is full of oil, uranium, chromium, lead and zinc, making it an attractive country for foreign investors.
Kazakhstan has a combination of different climates. The southern part has a cold desert climate (type BWk according to the Köppen-Geiger classification), which slowly changes into a warm steppe climate (type BSh). The northern part of Kazakhstan has to deal with the much more stark continental climates Dfb, Dfa and in some places Dsa. The classification of warm continental climate does not mean that it is relatively warm throughout the year, but that the warmest month has an average monthly temperature of more than 22 degrees Celsius. Despite the cold to sometimes very severe winters, almost all regions of Kazakhstan meet this standard.
Winter in Kazakhstan
The winters in Kazakhstan are cool to sometimes very cold. In the southernmost part of Kazakhstan, temperatures in January are between minus 2 and minus 10 degrees. As you go further north, average temperatures drop rapidly. The provinces of Kostanay, Akmola, Pavlodar, Northern Kazakhstan and Eastern Kazakhstan are freezing cold in winter. With average 24-hour temperatures between minus 15 and minus 20 degrees Celsius, this part of Kazakhstan is unpleasant to say the least. During the night, the temperature can even drop to minus thirty to as much as minus forty degrees. The southern half of Kazakhstan is not only warmer during the winter, it is also much more likely that the thermometer occasionally rises above freezing. In the northern half, thaw during the coldest months is almost unimaginable,
Dry, sunny and warm summers
After a relatively short transitional period, summer starts in Kazakhstan at the end of May or mid-June. Summers are dry, very sunny and warm. Even in the warmest months of June, July and August you can see a trend in the long-term averages when it comes to maximum temperatures. The northern regions are the coolest with a modest 18 to 27 degrees, while in the south the average afternoon temperature is between 25 and 32 degrees. It is also in the southern half that the risk of extreme heat is considerable, while in the north the tropical limit of thirty degrees Celsius is not exceeded so often.
Typical for almost all of Kazakhstan is the small amount of precipitation that falls. Most areas have to make do with only 100 to 200 millimeters of precipitation on average per year. In the central-southern part this is even below one hundred millimeters per year. The mountain areas in the east are a lot wetter. Here precipitation amounts can rise to about six hundred millimeters per year, which is still slightly less than the average for the Netherlands. The capital Nursultan records more than three hundred and twenty millimeters on an annual basis, with the summer months being considerably wetter than the winter months. In winter, all precipitation in Kazakhstan falls in the form of snow, creating excellent opportunities for skiing in the mountainous areas. Winter sports in Kazakhstan are not as massive as, for example, in our own ski areas in the Alpine countries, but those who want winter sports can visit Kazakhstan in the period December to March-April. Keep in mind that snow storms and/or extreme cold can cause unpleasant ski weather.
Clear blue sky
A nice side effect of the dry climate of Kazakhstan is that the country has a huge number of days where there is actually not a cloud in the sky. For example, the north of the country has an average of about one hundred and twenty days a year with a completely clear sky, while in the south this can be no less than 220 to a maximum of 260 days. This makes Kazakhstan one of the sunniest countries in Asia.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month|
Best time to visit Kazakhstan
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Kazakhstan? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The eighth largest country in the world, the Republic of Kazakhstan, is topographically located in Asia. Some western parts are now attributed to Europe. Due to the location of Kazakhstan, a climate has arisen which is regularly referred to as an extreme continental climate. This is not an official classification, but a way of indicating that Kazakhstan’s climate is downright extreme. The winters are very cold and the summers are warm to sea hot. Think of minimum temperatures that can drop to -40 to -50 degrees Celsius in winter and maximum temperatures that can rise to 40 to 45 degrees above zero in summer. That is almost a hundred degrees temperature difference within a year. If you want to book a trip to Kazakhstan, it is quite essential that you take a good look at what period you are traveling to where.
Best months for Kazakhstan
The great contrasts within the Kazakh climate make it difficult to designate a period as the best time to travel to Kazakhstan. There is cold or serious heat within the country almost every month. If you travel between mid-April and mid-May or in September, you have a good chance that you will encounter somewhat good weather conditions in almost all of Kazakhstan.
A number of cities in Kazakhstan are worth visiting as a city trip destination. Think of the former capital Almaty or the new capital Nursultan, which was called Astana until 2019. Nur-Sultan can be visited throughout the summer season. May to September is the best time to travel to Nursultan. It is then pleasantly warm (20 to 30 degrees during the day), with a chance of a heat wave with higher temperatures. For Almaty, which is located in the southeast of Kazakhstan, the best travel time is almost the same. In this city, the month of May can still be on the wet side.
It’s probably not the first winter sports destination that comes to mind, but Kazakhstan is an excellent country for skiing or snowboarding in the winter. There are mountains that are sometimes kilometers high, the winters are cold to very cold and in many places there is enough snow to do winter sports. Especially in the mountains around Almaty you have beautiful slopes where you can ski. Some descents bridge a height difference of more than a kilometer. The best travel time for a winter sports holiday to Kazakhstan is January to mid-March. The chance of good snow conditions is then greatest.