Is Scotland cold? – your handy Scottish temperature conversion chart

Often people think Scotland is a cold place, but it’s not. There are areas in Japan (which people often assume to be a hot place) that get much much colder than Scoland ever does. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Scotland is -27.2°C (Braemar, 1982); the lowest in Japan on official record is -41.0°C (Asahikawa, Hokkaido, 1902). The average temperature in the coldest month (January) in Scotland is 2°C; in Hokkaido, the January average is well below the freezing point.

What is true is that Scotland is a cool place in summer – and I’m talking about temperatures, not the festivals (though they are certainly cool too). The average maximum temperature for the hottest month in Scotland is 19°C – even in northern Hokkaido, the average maximum reaches 26°C. The highest temperature ever recorded in Scotland is 32.9°C (Greycrook, 2003). In Osaka, the average maximum temperature for August is 33°C. I lived in central Scotland for a total of 19 years, and I only remember two days when the maximum temperature in my area hit the dizzy height of 30°C.

So far I’ve written this piece using Celsius temperatures. That’s what you see in weather forecasts in Britain nowadays, but when I first moved to Scotland, it was still common to use Fahrenheit, so as someone originally from a metric country, I had to learn the Fahrenheit temperature scale. The following is a post I made on a web forum in a discussion about weather and temperatures.

The UK, including Scotland, is going with the rest of Europe and is now a Celsius country, but when I moved to Scotland so many years ago, weather forecasts were still given in Fahrenheit. Lots of people older than me still prefer to use the old units (F for temperature, inches/feet for measurement, pounds for weight, etc.) so you end up having to learn them just so you know what others are talking about.

I have a simplified scale for Scottish temperature conversion:
30F –> freezing!! (-1C)
40F –> ****** [insert your choice of swear word ] cold! (about 4C)
50F –> cold (10C)
60F –> warm (about 16C)
70F –> hot! (about 21C)
80F –> ****** [insert your choice of swear word ] hot!! (about 27C)

We don’t have to remember 90F in Scotland — it doesn’t happen. LOL

(Okay, the last bit is a lie since the heighest record of 32.9°C is 91.2°F – but don’t forget that we are talking about a record high here. 90°F is 32.2°C.)

*To see the latest weather forecast for Scotland (Edinburgh), see the BBC weather feed.

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