Brazil is a vast country with diverse climate patterns ranging from tropical (Köppen climate classification Af, Am, Aw) in the north and west, to temperate in the south (Köppen Cwa, Cwb). The northeastern part of the country is semi-arid to arid (Köppen BWh, BSh). The core climatic pattern is tropical due to the location near the equator. A minor portion of the south has an oceanic climate type, with its variants (Köppen Cfa, Cfb). Summers are hot and humid, while winters are mild in the majority of the country. Brazil occupies a large portion in South America and shares borders with Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname in the north, Argentina, and Paraguay in the southwest, Uruguay in the south, Bolivia, and Peru in the west, and Colombia in the northwest. The tropical location, a vast network of rivers, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, influence the climate.
Brazil has a diverse topography of hills, mountains, highlands, and plains, but the average altitude lies between 200 meters to 600 meters. The Atlantic Ocean on the east gives a vast coastline of 4655 miles. The equator and Tropic of Capricorn pass through Brazil, and the rainforest of the Amazon has the richest biodiversity in the world. The Guiana Highlands form a dividing range that separates rivers flowing between the Amazon Basin in the south and the Orinoco river system in the north. The southeast has a rugged terrain with many mountain ranges of moderate elevations. A part of the northeast is arid, while the Atlantic Ocean regulates temperatures near the eastern coast. High evaporation rates make it challenging to grow crops in the northeast. Pico da Neblina has the highest point at 2994 meters in Brazil.
Summers are hot, humid, and wet in Brazil. The seasonal cycle reverses in the portion of the country that lies south of the equator. January sees the highest temperatures of the year, while June registers the lowest. Temperatures above 37.8°C (100°F) frequently occur in the northeast during the dry season. The Amazon region is humid, but temperatures above 32.2°C (90°F) are rare. The Atlantic coast sees moderate annual temperatures between 22.8°C (73°F) to 27.2°C (81°F), which decreases further going south of Rio de Janeiro and at high altitudes. Northern Brazil has significant temperature variations between day and night. Winters are mild with rare, freezing temperatures only in the high mountain areas. Snowfall occurs in the subtropical highlands, such as the Caxias do Sul in the southern region. Frost and snow are common on the high plateaus and mountains south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Many microclimates exist in Brazil, but the seasons are unique in the south of the country.
Brazil receives annual rainfall between 990.6mm (39") to 1498.6mm (59"), with a significant percentage of it from December to April. The northeast is mostly arid, while the west and center receive 1524mm (60") to 2032mm (80") of rain, with a dry season in the middle of the year. The east and south do not have a dry season. The mouth of the Amazon receives more than 2006.6mm (79") of precipitation annually, while western Amazon records more than 2997.2mm (118"). Central Brazil has seasonal rainfall between 1397mm (55") to 1778mm (70"), with a tropical savanna climate. Coastal cities enjoy a warm climate with constant trade winds. Humidity is high near the coast and in the interior of the Amazon Basin. Subtropical temperatures keep the conditions mild south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Brazil receives ample sunshine between 2400 to 3000 hours annually, courtesy to its proximity to the equator.
The record high temperature for Brazil is 44.7°C (112.5°F), set in Bom Jesus, Piaui, on November 21, 2005. The lowest recorded temperature to date is -13.9°C (7°F), set in Cacador, Santa Catarina, on June 11, 1952.
The best time to visit Brazil
The best time to visit Brazil is usually in the mild winter, which lasts from June to August south of the equator. The coldest period is also less rainy and reasonably sunny everywhere, except for a portion in the south. The south is occasionally cold, especially at high altitudes, and registers frost and snow. The ocean waters at an average of 13.9°C (57°F) are cold in Rio in August and register between 21.1°C (70°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) in March. The sea temperatures on the coasts of north-central Brazil are warm enough for swimming throughout the year. The Amazon rainforest is much friendlier during periods of less rain and humidity. Flora and fauna are much visible during the bright and dry periods when the sunrays hope to touch the ground.
The worst time to visit Brazil
The worst time to visit Brazil is during the hot summer from December to February when the heat and humidity are high. The equatorial location is prone to daily rain, and the sticky conditions become quickly unbearable for people from temperate regions. Heavy rainfall occurs in many parts of the country during the summer. Rivers flood quickly, and the swelling waters become an obstruction. The Amazon Basin is notorious for humid conditions, and the combination of summer and rain is a breeding period for mosquitoes. The southern temperate portion of the country offers respite from the heat at high elevations, if a summer trip is mandatory. The eastern beaches see fewer crowds during the hot and wet season.
Brazil is vulnerable to thunderstorms, floods, and droughts in the summer. Intense rainfall brings floods in many regions due to the large river systems in the country. Heatwaves last for extended periods in the northeast when temperatures soar above 37.8°C (100°F). Droughts frequently occur in the northeast and last for long periods due to less rain and scarcity of water. The droughts in 1877 and 1915 brought large scale devastation, with loss of life. Thunderstorms with lightning are a common occurrence in the summer. Tropical storms occasionally strike coastal areas, such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Vitoria, Santos, and Curitiba. Brazil rarely sees tropical cyclones of high intensity due to its location near the South Atlantic Ocean.
Weather in January
January is usually the hottest month of the year in Brazil, as the New Year dawns in the clutches of the intense sun. The average temperatures in Brasilia, the capital, are moderate between 17.2°C (63°F) to 27.2°C (81°F), even at the peak of summer due to its high altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. The northeast is scorching hot, with daily temperatures in the 22.2°C (72°F) to 35.6°C (96.1°F) range in Apodi, Petrolina, and Sao Goncalo. Belem receives at least 381mm (15") of rainfall, but the surrounding ocean keeps the temperatures in check. The Amazon rainforest sees humidity levels up to 100%, with average daily temperatures in the 21.1°C (70°F) to 31.1°C (88°F) range. The majestic Iguazu Falls in the north is an excellent option for tourists who seek adventure in the sunny days. Summer is generally wet in many parts of Brazil, with 127mm (5") to 381mm (15") of average rainfall. The moderate temperatures in the southeast make it a more acceptable destination during peak summer. Seawater is pleasantly warm in January in the famous Copacabana beach in Brazil.
Weather in February
February is hot, humid, and wet in Brazil, with plenty of sunshine and mostly bright skies. The average rainfall ranges from 101.6mm (4") to 304.8mm (12") in much of the country. The humidity levels keep the heat index high in the summer, even though extreme temperatures occur rarely. Sao Paulo, on the southern coast, receives 215.9mm (8.5") of rain in February, with warm temperatures in the 18.9°C (66°F) to 27.8°C (82°F) range. Fortaleza in the northeast is hot and humid between 22.8°C (73°F) to 30°C (86°F), with plenty of rain. Wet summer afternoons are perfect for visiting museums such as the Sao Paulo Museum of Art. Extended daylight hours are great for kids to get close to colored toucans and scarlet macaws in the fabulous Parque das Aves Zoo in the north. Wear tropic-friendly clothing such as a sweatshirt and a sun hat, but remember to bring a light raincoat in places of heavy rainfall. February throws discounts for budget travelers to Brazil, who can withstand the hot sun.
Weather in March
March brings ample rain, heat, and humidity in Brazil. The blistering sunshine mandates sun hats and light-weighted clothing in much of the country. The average temperatures are between 21.1°C (70°F) to 32.2°C (90°F), with moderate temperatures in the south, and particularly in the southeast. Rio Grande, with moderate temperatures, and mild seawater at 22.8°C (73°F), attracts many visitors for getaways and vacations on the beaches. The wet season brings plenty of rain in the north, with Belem, Manaus, Santarem, and Porto Velho registering between 330.2mm (13") to 457.2mm (18"). The central and south see 101.6mm (4") to 203.2mm (8") of precipitation. Early mornings are better for outdoor activities than the heat of the afternoons. March is the time to forget the heat and soak in the biggest carnival in the world in Rio de Janeiro. Expect plenty of tourists from all over the world. Hotels run air-conditioners 24 by 7 to cater to the tourist hordes in the uneasy stickiness of the summer. Temperatures gradually decrease by late March in Brazil.
Weather in April
April sees a significant reduction in heat in Brazil at the end of the summer season. Palmas and Porto Velho in the north have average temperatures between a warm 20.6°C (69.1°F) to a hot 31.7°C (89.1°F), with 203.2mm (8") to 254mm (10") of rainfall. The northeast is rainy and hot, with temperatures in the hot 22.2°C (72°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) range. The southern part of the country below the Tropic of Capricorn has a Mediterranean climate, with moderate temperatures and precipitation and partly cloudy skies. The growing season is in full swing with the availability of ample water and fertile soils in much of Brazil. Lush green rainforests, roaring waterfalls, and flooding rivers and tributaries are the features of the wet season. Boating, fishing, and hiking are popular with locals as well as visitors. Fantastic views of Rio await visitors atop the Sugarloaf Mountain. Cable car rides explore the panoramic landscape during clear skies as well as wet periods. Easter time in April is a festive period that brings cheer to Brazil.
Weather in May
May is a beautiful month in Brazil with comfortable temperatures and a decrease in rainfall. The skies are bereft of clouds, and the stickiness in the air gives way to generally comfortable conditions. The temperatures drop from the height of summer, with the advance of the autumn in southern Brazil. Nights become colder in the south and occasionally frosty at high altitudes in the mountains. Brasilia records average temperatures between 15°C (59°F) to 26.1°C (79°F), as cold air from the south pushes down the night temperatures. Salvador de Bahia on the eastern coast has warm sea temperatures, highest rainfall of the year at 294.6mm (11.6") in May, and average temperatures between 22.8°C (73°F) to 27.8°C (82°F). The rainforest in the north sees moderate precipitation and temperatures, as dry spells give time to explore the beauty of nature. The weather is perfect for hiking and camping in the mountains, with freezing temperatures yet to strike the highlands. May is an excellent time to visit southern Brazil, where the conditions are temperate.
Weather in June
June begins the winter season in Brazil with conditions ranging from mild to cold. The north sees dry periods, although the precipitation is imminent much throughout the rainforest. The region north of the Amazon rainforest is savannah type, with the highest rainfall in June at 360.7mm (14.2") in Boa Vista. Fortaleza, down further towards the coast, sees the reverse pattern, with a significant decrease of rainfall. The sea temperatures in the northeast are warm between 26.1°C (79°F) to 28.9°C (84°F), while they drop below 21.1°C (70°F) in the south. Porto Alegre, a popular tourist destination in the temperate south, registers cool temperatures between 10°C (50°F) to 18.9°C (66°F). Swimming, beach volleyball, and water sports are everyday activities at the beaches that see crowds long after the end of the summer season. Light jackets are preferable during the evenings to counter rain and breezes. Wind speeds increase with the dispersion of the cloudy weather and keep humidity to acceptable levels. June is a great month to visit Brazil.
Weather in July
July is the coldest month of the year in several parts of Brazil, but there is plenty of sunshine. The southern region sees a significant drop in temperatures along with an increase in rainfall. Florianopolis registers coldest temperatures of the year between 12.8°C (55°F) to 20°C (68°F), 99.1mm (3.9") of rain, with daily sunshine of 5 hours. Nights occasionally drop below freezing, along with snowfall in the highlands and mountains of the south. Skiing is popular in snowy areas in the winter and sees crowds, as much of the country rarely receives snow. Much of central Brazil and coastal towns on the eastern shores experience moderate cold in the winter. The extreme north registers mild temperatures in the 22.2°C (72°F) to 30°C (86°F) range, and the season is relatively dry in the Amazon Basin. A boat trip along the Amazonian waterways is a great way to witness the diverse flora and fauna of land and water. July is an excellent time to visit the upper half of Brazil.
Weather in August
August is a mild winter month in Brazil with beautiful sunshine and slightly short days. The region near the equator has warm temperatures and adequate sunshine, but the dry season sees relatively less rain. Winter is an excellent time to explore the hinterlands, where the cold is moderate at best. Porto de Galinhas has a beautiful fantastic beach with mild seawater temperatures, white sands, and clear waters. Wind speeds of less than 32.2km/h (20mph) are perfect for surfing in the temperate sun. Beaches in the extreme southeast usually have fewer crowds due to cold waters. Campos da Jordao, in the Mantiqueira Mountains, is one of the coldest places in Brazil, with average temperatures in the 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 20°C (68°F) range. The warm and dry afternoons are perfect for admiring the magnificent buildings of Brasilia as the temperatures register between 14.4°C (57.9°F) to 27.2°C (81°F). The conditions gradually begin to warm up by the end of August, which sees many tourists in Brazil.
Weather in September
September brings the spring season in the south of Brazil, with lush greenery and freshness in the air. The coldness of the winter gives way to warm temperatures everywhere. Freeing nights and snowfall are rare even in the high mountains, with the dawn of the spring. September is mostly dry in the north, but moderately wet in the south. Curitiba, Caxias do Sul, Londrina, and Ponta Grossa receive between 127mm (5") to 177.8mm (7") of rainfall. Southern Brazil is partly cloudy, with 5 to 6 hours of daily sunshine and temperatures between 10°C (50°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F). The north is comparatively dry and warm in the 18.3°C (64.9°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) range. Jackets and raincoats are due in the south, while sunhats come into picture in the north. Spring is a lovely season to explore the Amazon rainforest when the humidity and precipitation are relatively low. The land is colorful due to the explosion of wildflowers, and the air smells sweet. September is an ideal time to visit, both northern and southern Brazil.
Weather in October
October is dry in much of Brazil, with the spring season in advanced stages. The woodlands adorn colors, and the lake shores are blissful. Farmlands prepare for the growing season in much of the country. The dry season gives way to a wet one in the central and northern regions. Santos and Sao Paulo in the southeast register average temperatures in the range of 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 25°C (77°F), while the seawater temperatures remain mild. The southern region still has cozy night temperatures register between 10°C (50°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F). North and central portions of the country register an average of 127mm (5") to 203.2mm (8") of rainfall. Days prolong as the sunshine lasts for 7 hours in many places. The weather conditions are suitable for walking, biking, hiking, boating, and swimming. A cool place to visit during mid-spring is the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean. October is an excellent time to visit the rainforest in Brazil before the beginning of heavy rainfall.
Weather in November
November is the beginning of the rainy season in the central and northern parts of Brazil. The wet season sees 15 to 20 rainy days, with 203.2mm (8") to 254mm (10") of precipitation in the north, central, and western parts of Brazil. The south sees a relatively steady 101.6mm (4") to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall. The landscape heats up considerably, and the average high temperatures reach 32.2°C (90°F) even in the central part of the country. The northeast registers much higher temperatures than the rest of the country, with Apodi and Teresina crossing 36.1°C (97°F) during the day. The skies are partly cloudy, but the sunshine lasts for more than 7 hours, even in the south. November is the last month before summer when the heat index rises considerably. A bike ride through the beautiful countryside is a great way to explore the country in the spring season. The rivers are full of water, and flora and fauna are mesmerizing. Expect the temperatures to increase gradually with each passing day in November in Brazil.
Weather in December
December begins the hot and humid summer in Brazil, with a significant rise in the heat index. Recife, Natal, and Salvador in the northeast register average high temperatures in the hot 29.4°C (84.9°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) range. Much of the south, including Rio Grande, Pelotas, and Maringa, record average temperatures in the moderate 18.3°C (64.9°F) to 29.4°C (84.9°F) zone. Much of Brazil sees heavy rainfall in the 203.2mm (8") to 381mm (15") range. The mouth of the Amazon records the highest rainfall of more than 381mm (15") in December. The humidity levels in the rainforest are high, and approach 90% in the mornings. General tourists avoid the rainforest during the wet season as the rivers swell considerably. Mosquitoes multiply in the damp conditions, and the conditions are challenging even for experienced hands. Wind speeds are low in the summer, and even along the coast, the breezes are light. Temperatures in the southeast are moderate, but the humidity increases the heat index. The conditions are unfavorable to visit the northern part of Brazil in December.