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WEATHER

WEATHER IN SABAH

Sabah has an equatorial climate. Temperatures rarely rise above 32 ° C (90 ° F) except on exceptionally hot days, and along the coastal areas rarely drop below 20 ° C (68 ° F) at night. In the interior and at higher altitudes it can get quite cold at night. Relative humidity is usually 85-95 per cent. Rainfall is common throughout the year, and varies from about 150 cm (60 inches) to over 450 cm (180 inches) per year. In most parts of Sabah the wetter period occurs during the North East Monsoon from October to February and the drier season during the South West Monsoon from March to September but often there is no really sharp division between the two. It is sufficient to say that on the whole, sunny blue skies are the norm but when it rains, the heavens open.

Living in a tropical climate, we dress very informally (e.g. lightweight linens & cottons, T-shirts, shorts, jeans). For dinners and night spots, smart casual wear is the norm. Either safari suits or lounge suits are acceptable for business meetings. Sabah is a tropical country with uniform temperatures, high humidity and copious rainfalls. Situated at equatorial doldrums between roughly 4 ° N and 7 ° N, under the monsoon and typhoon belt, Sabah is often referred to as “The Land Below the Wind.” Due to its topography Sabah has varied climate zones, and unevenly distributed seasons, but generally only two seasons are distinguished, a dry and a rainy one. The rainy season is from November to March. Globally changing weather patterns have also affected Sabah, and it is extremely difficult to accurately forecast the weather in the north of Borneo; however below are some mean values gathered by the Malaysian Meteorological Institution over more than four decades.

SEASONS IN SABAH

Generally two seasons are distinguished: the rainy / wet season, and the dry season. The wet season starts in November, with the onset of the northeast monsoons in Peninsular Malaysia and ends towards April. During the months of April to November, when typhoons frequently develop over the west Pacific and move westwards across the Philippines, south-westerly winds over the northwest coast of Sabah and Sarawak region may strengthen, reaching 20 knots or more.
SUNSHINE
Being mostly a maritime country close to the equator, Sabah naturally has abundant sunshine. However, it is extremely rare to have a full day with completely clear sky even in periods of severe drought. On the other hand, it is also rare to have a stretch of a few days with completely no sunshine except during the rainy season.

RAINFALL DISTRIBUTION

The seasonal wind flow patterns coupled with the local topographic features determine the rainfall distribution patterns over the state. During the northeast monsoon season in Peninsular Malaysia the exposed areas of the northeast coast of Sabah experience heavy rain spells. This is generally termed the rainy season with maximum rainfall occurring in January. On the other hand, inland areas or areas which are sheltered by mountain ranges are relatively free from its influence.
The northwest coast of Sabah experiences a rainfall regime of which the primary maximum occurs in October and the secondary one in June. The primary minimum occurs in February and the secondary one in August.

In the central parts of Sabah where the land is hilly and sheltered by mountain ranges, the rainfall received is relatively lower than other regions and is evenly distributed. However, two maxima and two minima can be noticed, though somewhat less distinct. In general, the two minima occur in February and August while the two maxima occur in May and October.
Southern Sabah has evenly distributed rainfall. The annual rainfall total received is comparable to the central part of Sabah. The period February to April is, however slightly drier than the rest of the year.

(source: Malaysian Meteorological Institution)

TEMPERATURE DISTRIBUTION

Being an equatorial country, Sabah has uniform temperatures throughout the year. The annual variation is less than 2 ° C, with temperatures rarely exceeding 31 ° C, and rarely dropping below 23 ° C. The mean monthly relative humidity falls within 70% to 90%, varying from place to place and from month to month. Although the days are frequently hot, the nights are reasonably cool everywhere.

(source: Malaysian Meteorological Institution)

SPECIAL CLIMATE ZONE: MT KINABALU

Mt Kinabalu is South East Asia’s highest mountain and at the top (4095.2 m a.s.l. / 13,435.7 ft) temperatures can drop to 0 ° Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). At Laban Rata and the other mountain rest houses (around 3300 m a.s.l. / 10,800 ft) the early morning temperature hovers around 10 ° Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). The Mountain also tends to make its own climate, and winds, clouds and rainfall can be expected in the afternoon. For safety reasons all climbers must depart from the Kinabalu National Park Head Quarters by or before noon.