Wind, Snow and Rain
Greenland’s climate is an Arctic one and offers large variations in temperature and rainfall. The weather can change suddenly and vary greatly over short distances.
THE WIND IN GREENLAND
Generally-speaking it is not that windy in Greenland. Many days are completely calm with calm seas and glassy fjords and lakes.
However, the wind can certainly pick up and when at its worst certain areas can experience so-called föhn winds, which are often preceded by lens-shaped clouds.
Föhn winds are usually warm winds from the southeast which can be very strong with gusts of more than 50 m/s (111 mph), and are usually followed by precipitation.
All in all, however, it is unusual for strong winds to be a problem for guests that are visiting Greenland during the summer or for brief periods only.
THE CHILL FACTOR
During the winter the wind can increase the effect of the cold. Minus 5° C (23° F) feels a lot colder in a wind blowing at 10 m/s (22 mph).
This is what is known as the chill factor or wind chill factor. Although minus 15° C (5° F) sounds cold, it does not have to feel it, as long as there is no wind and you are wearing the right clothing.
Suitable clothing is in fact the key, because it is a truism that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!
Greenland is not completely devoid of rain, but heavy rain is rare. Rainfall levels are generally a little higher in the south than in the north. For example, Nanortalik in the south has 900 mm (35 inches) of rain a year, whilst Upernavik in the north averages just 200 mm (8 inches) of rain a year.
In fact there is less rainfall in Northeast Greenland than in the Sahara, and thus the expression “the Arctic desert” has arisen.
RAIN AND QUANTITIES OF SNOW
Quantities of snow also vary locally, but it is not unusual to see large amounts of snow in many towns from December to March.
Enquire in advance at your local travel agency if you are planning to go skiing or dog sledding. The best months for dogsled driving are from February to April.