How Useful Are Average Temperatures?

14 May 2017, 17:32

An average is the mean number representing a set of figures. For example, if you have a set of five figures (let’s say 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14), the average would be 12. This is gained by adding together the five figures given, and then dividing them by five – the total number of figures listed. If there were six figures, we’d divide their total by six to get the average.

Average temperatures are worked out in the same way. The average monthly temperature of a location would be calculated by adding together the daily temperature seen on each day of the month, and then dividing by the number of days in that month. Data can be taken from the same month over several years, too, to get an even more accurate average.

However, an average temperature will be just that – an average. It may not be the temperature you experience when you go somewhere. For example, the average temperature in London in January is 5 degrees Celsius. However, the average high-low points range between 6 degrees Celsius and 3 degrees Celsius. Similarly, July in the city has an average temperature of around 19 degrees Celsius. Yet the high-low figures go from 14 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius – quite a difference between the two extremes.

So, while average temperatures can be useful in some instances, they should only ever be used as a rough guide. After all, we have all known years when the summer months have been very warm, perhaps hot, even, and temperatures in the city have reached into the high twenties or even the low thirties. Meanwhile, other years have seen days where the temperatures have struggled to get into the mid-teens.

If you are planning to go anywhere on holiday, it does pay to look at the average temperatures for a region or resort, as well as looking at the highs and lows. This can help you work out whether it would be a good place to go, as well as what to pack before you go. While you cannot prepare for every eventuality, you can do better than simply packing what you think might work. 

For example, if you are thinking of heading up to Aviemore in Scotland – a key ski resort in the Highlands – you will be interested to know the average high in the region is 12 degrees Celsius around the middle of April. However, the average low is much lower than this, at just 3 degrees Celsius. In 2002, the town got up to a heady 17 degrees Celsius, though, so you can see anything is possible.

Just remember to check the averages, highs, and lows for any location worldwide before you travel!