Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's a tad cold


How cold does it get in Buenos Aires?

Well some of the coldest nights I’ve ever spent anywhere were during the three weeks I stayed in provincía just two hours outside of the capital city in Zona Oeste, where a poorly insulated house in open countryside made escaping the freeze impossible. The damp, eat at your bones, bitter cold was worse inside the home than it was outside; and that's enough to make battles with the weather more than tough wherever you are.

In small villages and rural neighbourhoods all over the province, that is the cold reality of winter during July and August for many of the seven million inhabitants of Gran Buenos Aires. In the centre of the city however, it of course does not get so chilly and you can generally guarantee temperatures of three to four degrees higher than in the countryside.

But even with the protection of endless streets and avenues lined with fifteen, twenty, twenty-five story apartment buildings shielding you from the wind, combined with the heat emanating from city living, it can still, from time to time, get rather bloody cold.

The last few days have certainly been a testament to that with temperatures of 4°C degrees in the city centre turning many a porteño nose red.  

News channels, as is their custom on bitter cold days, report the onslaught of the polar weather from the Antarctic. But what has made this spell all the worse, regardless of where the winds come from, is the rarity of three overcast days on the trot.

A Buenos Aires winter, which officially lasts from 21 June to 21 September, is in general perfectly tolerable as the blue skies and a shining southern hemisphere sun both warm and brighten up everyone’s lives by midday, when a laze in the plaza can be a pleasant short sleeve experience even on days when leaving the house at dawn makes a coat and scarf an absolute necessity. But grey over those blue skies London style and the coats, hats and scarves suddenly become vital all day long. Add a drizzly rain to all that and things are suddenly just nasty in a way most people are not accustomed to here.

Of course, half a dozen truly cold days per winter is nothing out of the norm in the city, even though the average winter temperature is around 11°C. But occasionally Buenos Aires is hit with some freak weather.

When I arrived here one visit back in July 2007, I immediately cottoned on to the snowy skies above. Travelling in a Remis into the province on 9 July, snowflakes began to fall.

“It's snowing?” I told the driver.
“No, it doesn’t snow in Buenos Aires,” he replied confidently.

By the time we’d arrived at my destination there was about an inch of snow covering the ground and hanging from the palm trees. It was the first time it had snowed in Buenos Aires since 1918 and the next few hours were spent playing with not only the kids, but parents and grandparents who had never seen snow in their lives.

“It’s cold and not soft like in the movies!” was the general reaction as stinging snowballs were flung.

How cold does it get in Buenos Aires? The lowest temperature ever recorded was -5.4°C on 9 July 1918, but with an average low in August of 8.9°C and average high of 17.3°C, the answer is, pretty chilly now and again but truthfully not that cold. In the city at least, it has to be said winters are mild. 

Enjoying the snow in Provincia de Buenos Aires, 2007

2 comments:

  1. Kari ReinikainenJuly 21, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    Snow in Buenos Aires? Had not imagined that it could ever snow down there, but clearly it can!

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  2. A few days of grey drizzly weather in July? Definitely sounds like London. July here has been like that almost entirely. Still at least I'm going on holiday tomorrow. To the sunshine hot spot that is Suffolk. Terry

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