Climate and Light
The Great Southern lies between 33 and 35 degrees south of the equator. As a comparison, southern Spain and southern California lie at about 35 degrees north. At the summer solstice, the sun’s highest point is 78 degrees elevation; at the winter solstice it tracks up to 31 degrees.
On the south coast at the summer solstice, the sun rises at 4.51am AWST (GMT +8.00) and sets at 7.22pm. At the winter solstice, the sun rises at 7.16am and sets at 5.04pm.
Coastal areas of the Great Southern have distinctive weather patterns beyond the conventional classification of ‘Mediterranean’. Summer usually divides into two halves. From December to mid-January, the weather warms up but the coast is still susceptible to days of cloud and rain. In the second half of summer and the first weeks of autumn, expect more days of fine, warm and calm weather. From March through to May, conditions are often calm and fine, but the days are cooler. Winter (June, July, August) is wet, cool, often cloudy and sometimes stormy. Spring (September to November) generally brings changeable conditions, varying from winter-like days, including storms, to sunny precursors of summer.
Away from the ocean (from about 50km inland), the coast’s summer pattern is moderated. Inland areas experience longer, drier summers with more days of clear skies.
Winter and spring change farm paddocks in the rural landscape from the dry tan and grey of summer to a vibrant green. In August and September, the canola (rapeseed) crops flower; for a few weeks, huge inland paddocks are coloured a brilliant yellow.
Near the coast, onshore winds can create hazy conditions at any time. Offshore winds, still conditions and clearing rain usually provide clearer horizons, provided no bushfires or burning activities are generating smoke. Haze from agricultural and controlled burning is a possibility in the fire shoulder seasons, around October-November and May-June.
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