What can I expect the weather to be like?

 

Weather:   For fairly accurate weather forecasting: take a look at:   Weather Underground  .   It also has historical data and sunrise/sunset times.

 Average Temps. (F)

 Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov 

 Dec 

 High   41 41   46 53  61 66 68  70  63 55 46 42
 Avg  36 34  39 45 53 56 61 61 55 50 41 36
 Low  34 31  35 39 44 53 54 54 50 45 38 35


Were anyone to describe the Amsterdam weather in one word, that would be 'changeable'. There is simply no point in asking anyone what the weather is going to be like more than a week ahead of the time. Even the Netherlands metorological office readily admit that any forecasts further out than that, including their own, are very unreliable.

There are an abundance of weather sites giving forecasts. Two local ones that specifically deserve a mention are:

nu.nl (now.nl)- This is in Dutch but with easy to understand graphics. It gives a current and projected (2 hours ahead) rainfall graphic. Detailed and usually very accurate forecast maps for the day ahead and a five day forecast with all sorts of details.

buienradar.nl (shower radar.nl) - http://www.buienradar.nl - Also in Dutch, this displays a live rain radar, also with a two hour projection. It is very detailed and usually uncannily accurate. Using it you can usually judge to within 10-15 minutes when it will start or stop raining in any part of the country.

The most predictable aspect of the climate in NL is of course the number of hours of daylight. In mid summer it gets light around 4.30am and it remains so until 11pm. In mid winter daylight hours will only run between 8.30am and 16.30pm. Even then, this can appear to vary quite significantly depending on the cloud cover and general weather conditions.

Spring

The tulips come into bloom in the mid to later part of March and last until early-mid May. It is impossible to be more specific about dates. The actual blooming season depends on the harshness of the previous winter. If you specifically want to come to see the world famous bulb fields in their full glory, the last two weeks of April are the weeks you will be pretty well guaranteed to see them at their best. The main fields are located to the South of Amsterdam in and around a town called Lisse. For flower lovers, a visit to the nearby Keukenhof is a must. In March and April it can be freezing and snow, though rare, is not unknown. Both can also have very pleasant periods with  temperatures up to the high 20s celcius (low 80s farenheit).

Summer

This is the time to sit on terraces people watching, a favourite pastime in Amsterdam. Of course this is not always possible. The long, generally warm days can be blighted by rainfall. During one particular 48 hour period in July 2011 no less that 12cm (5 inches) of rain fell. This was double what is normally the average rainfall for the whole month. The schools close for six weeks in July and many locals abandon their work for prolonged perionds as they head off in their caravans, to camping or to warmer parts of Europe. A consequense of this is that public transport and the roads appear quieter. Daytime temperatures can get as high as an uncomfortably sticky 40 celcius (100+ Farenheit) and are not unknown to be as low as a chilly 10 Celcius (50Farenheit). Although they can occur at any time of year, this is the most likely season for thunder storms.

Autumn 

People retreat indoors as the days get shorther and the weather less benign. The last of the outdoor terraces dissappear in late October, not to be seen again until Spring. Amsterdam still seems as busy as ever with many convention and business travellers in town. Hotels rooms can get scarce and expensive, particularly during the annual IBC conference in mid September. The market stalls are groaning with fresh local fruit and vegetables and the colours of the trees can be very beautiful as they shed their leaves. It is at this time of year you are most likely to see morning mists. Whilst it rarely goes below freezing or snows, the first frosts will appear, usually in October. Temperatures can however still be a quite pleasant 20+ Celcius (70 Farenheit).

Winter

If it is going to snow, this is the most likely time. There are other periods where it simply freezes, sometimes enough to turn the now bare trees in to the most beautiful white colour. The locals commute to and from work in the dark. Winter sports come to the fore. Ice rinks spring up all over the country and on the rare occasions when the canals in the region freeze enough to host an eleven cities race, the whole country stops what it is doing and heads North. Christmas tends to be a relatively low key affair in the Netherlands. Despite the short days and sometimes hostile climate many people like visiting at this time of year as it is quieter. It doesn't snow every year and the periods of freezing weather can last from as little as one day to over a month. Temperature can also go as high as a quite comfortable 15 Celcius (60 Farenheit).

What to Wear

The best advice is to bring clothing that you can put on or take off in layers. In summer you may not need a coat at all, certainly not a heavy one. It would still be wise to bring a light, rainproof one together with a heavier, long sleeved shirt you can wear over your tshirt, or light top, if and when it gets chilly. In winter a heavy coat is highly recommended, as are gloves, scarves, etc. You may however never need to use them.

To reiterate what was said at the beginning of this piece. Even we locals don't have a clue what the weather is going to throw at us more than a few days ahead and, as outlined above, the weather can vary greatly at any time of year. There really is no point in asking. Just pack as best you can and enjoy your stay!