Lhasa is located in the central part of Tibetan Plateau, north of the Himalaya Mountain Range. It's a city built on the river valley plain, literally in the Lhasa Basin, embraced by mountains and formed by the middle reach of Lhasa River, which is a tributary of Yarlung Zambo River (also spelled Yalu Tsangpo River). The weather in Lhasa is not harsh all year around, and which makes a visit to Lhasa agreeable in any season. You'll find more about Lhasa weather below.
Climate type: Alpine climate
More precisely, Lhasa is under the impact of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Temperate Zone-Alpine Semi-arid and Monsoon Climate.The yearly temperature difference is relatively small, in contrary to the big daily temperature difference. It is never hot even in summer, but cold throughout the year due to the high altitude. Because when there is 100-meter increase in altitude, the temperature drops by about 0.6 degrees Celsius. That's why sharing similar latitude range, Lhasa(29.65N) is much colder than Shanghai(30°40′N) or Chengdu(30°67′N). Lhasa is seriously cold in winter nights, cool in summer nights but pleasantly warm in the daytime for all seasons when there's no gale, thanks to the ample plateau sunshine. Low humidity is another feature of Lhasa climate. There are only about 92 rainy days in a year. And relatively longer sunshine hours and strong UV index are also Lhasa's unique feature.
Slight change in the relatively stable Lhasa weather
Looking back at the temperature records in Lhasa during the past three years, we can see the temperature range are constantly encountering small changes. For instance, in the past three years, the average temperature for January in Lhasa are as follows: Jan. 2020(5℃to -6℃); Jan. 2019(5℃ to -8℃); and Jan. 2018(11℃ to -6℃).
|12-month historical data of Lhasa weather in 2019|
|Average rainy days||0.7||1||1.6||4.3||9.9||14.3||19||20||15||5||0.7||0.6|
Noteworthy conclusion based on the above history data
The coldest month in Lhasa in 2019: January
The warmest month in Lhasa in 2019: June
There are eight months when the average low temperatures are above 0℃；These are from April onwards to November.
The wettest month is August; and the driest month is January.
Spring: The average temperature is between 11 to -4 degrees Celsius. And the average precipitation is 34mm.
Summer: The average temperature is between 22 to 9 degrees Celsius. And the average precipitation is 370mm.
Autumn: The average temperature is between 20 to 7 degrees Celsius. And the average precipitation is 48 mm.
Winter: The average temperature is between 14 to -2 degrees Celsius. And the average precipitation is 4mm.
Norbulinka Summer Palace in Lhasa
Temperature details: The previously recorded highest temperature is 30℃ and the lowest is -16.5℃. The annual average temperature is about 7.5℃. Except that winter and is cold, dry and windy and summer is warm and wet, spring and autumn are pleasantly warm in the daytime and cold in the nighttime. The frost-free season is about 100 to 120 days long.
Rainfalls are concentrated in the months from June to September. The precipitation in Summer makes up 80% of the annual amount in Lhasa. The annual precipitation is about 200mm to 510mm. And rains mostly happen in the nighttime.
Humidity in Lhasa: From June to September, the average humidity level is between 51% to 64%. Therefore, these four months are the best time as to body comfort in the matter of humidity. The rest eight months are with humidity ranging from 26% to 49%, which are much lower than the comfort index.
UV radiation index: The periods with strongest UV radiation in Lhasa is during April to September, when the index is around 12; While the time with weakest UV is January and December when the index is around 5.
Lhasa in Autumn
Daylight hours and sunshine hours:
June has the longest daytime, with an average of 14-hour daylight hours; While December, with an average of 10.3 hour, is the month with shortest daylight time.
October has the most sunshine hours with the daily average of 9.1 hours; And August is with a daily average sunshine hour of 7.1 hours. This indicates that October has the most clear/sunny days in a year and August has the most rainy or cloudy days in Lhasa.
The annual number of sunshine hours in Lhasa reaches 3,000 hours, which is 1,800 hours more than Chengdu, the capital city of the neighboring province Sichuan, and 1,100 hours more than Shanghai.
The considerable sunlight in Lhasa grants it the name City of Sunlight. Bathing in the sun has actually turned out to be a very popular activity for tourists from inland China, whose hometown is cloudy or rainy. Though Tibet is generally cold throughout the year. In the daytime, especially around noon and early afternoon, the sunlight in Lhasa makes the felt temperature much higher than the actual figure.
Based on the alpine climate situation of Lhasa, warm clothing is vital for the four seasons. Dressing in layers are wise choice, because of the huge temperature difference in a day.
That also explains why you'd see locals wearing the traditional Tibetan robes with only one sleeve on at noon, the warmest time of a day, and both sleeves on when it gets cold as the night draws closer.
It's also important to dress comfortably. We suggest that you choose light-weight down coats/jackets or professional hiking/mountaineering jackets. Heavy clothing would give your body more burden, which won't help you when you're struggling during your time of acclimatization to the altitude.
Lhasa in Winter