Cyprus has a climate defined as sub-tropical Mediterranean and semi-arid. The climate can be separated into 2 distinct types, summer and winter, with hot dry summers and cooler wet winters. On average, Cyprus experiences 3 000 to 3 500 hours of sunshine per year, with winter sunshine hours approximately half of the summer sunshine hours.
Being a large island dramatically affects the weather patterns, with the waters of the Mediterranean having a dominant effect, generally causing lesser fluctuations in temperature across the seasons than mainland countries in the region, i.e. warmer winters and cooler summers. The coastal regions are more stable than the higher interior of the island, with the sea cooling the air in the summer, and warming the air in the winter.
Winds are variable, but tend to be on the milder side.
Precipitation occurs mainly during the winter months, with the infrequent summer rains providing little or no effect on agriculture or water reserves. Records show a decreasing amount of annual rainfall in Cyprus over the past 30 years. Rainfall is higher in the mountain regions around the Troodos Massif, but generally precipitation varies from about 350mm annually on the coastal plains to about 1 000mm annually in the mountains. Snow can accumulate around Troodos occasionally in the months of January and February.
Humidity levels are tolerable, with slightly higher humidity during the winter months, although the humidity coupled with high temperatures can cause some discomfort at the peak of summer.
Cyprus does experience the occasional sand storm that blows in from the Middle East, mainly from Egypt.The island can also experience infrequent earthquakes, however structural damage is rare, as are injuries.
The summer months are generally considered to be from April through to September, when Cyprus comes under the influence of a trough of low pressure. Precipitation is light and infrequent in the months of April, May, and September, and occur mainly in the central highlands. During the months of April to September, Cyprus enjoys an average of 11 hours of bright sunshine per day, with clear, blue, sunny skies reflecting in the clear, azure waters and light winds.
Peak summer daytime temperatures vary from about 33°degrees centigrade in coastal regions to about 37° centigrade in the central island, with night temperatures averaging in the low twenties in the coastal regions and the high teens in the higher central regions.
Sea temperatures remain cool until the latter part of June, but remain pleasantly warm well into November. The annual average sea temperature around Cyprus is in the region of 21-23° centigrade, with winter temperatures in the high teens and summer peaks around 29° centigrade, depending on the location.
Due to the dry conditions agriculture tends to slow during the summer months, with preparations taking place in the early and latter parts of summer. Grapes, olives, almonds, carob, and other crops develop over the summer with little maintenance, and harvesting generally takes place in the latter part of summer, with the exception of olives which are harvested after the first rains at the end of summer.
Winter is the wet season in Cyprus, spurring plant growth and hopefully replenishing water reserves. Frequent small depressions move across the Mediterranean from west bringing short periods of unsettled, stormy weather, each lasting a day or two and producing the majority of the annual rainfall. These occur most frequently in December, January, and February, and in fact these three months account for about 60% of the annual precipitation. Temperatures are noticeably cooler and more refreshing than in summer, but, with the exception of the central mountains, temperatures rarely approach 0° centigrade.