The subtropical climate of Guangzhou is generally mild, with comparatively minor differences between the seasons. There are, however, some key distinctions. We've listed some of the major ones below.
Long summers with frequent afternoon showers
Guangzhou has lengthy summers that last for more than five months, usually from late May until early November. However, in recent years, many people have been seen wearing shorts even in December.
The hottest months are July, August and September, when temperatures range from about 25 - 36°C. High humidity adds to the discomfort, and air-conditioning is essential for a good night's sleep on sweltering nights. Also, strong convective showers or thunderstorms lasting an hour or two are common during the summer, so don't forget to bring an umbrella with you at all times…even on sunny afternoons.
Cantonese pedestrians walk in summer heat. (ycwb.com)
Humid chill in winter
Winter in Guangzhou normally lasts from late December until mid February, when it can get quite cold, but due to the city's low latitude, it seldom snows. The rainfall and high humidity, combined with an average temperature of 15 - 2 °C, create a "damp cold" which is said to "sneak" through your clothes and chill your body. In some ways it is less comfortable than the "dry cold" of North China, even though temperatures get much lower there.
In addition, there is little public heating here to help stave off the freezing temperatures. On the Chinese mainland heating in public buildings is reserved mostly for regions north of the Yangzi River, which explains why many people in Shanghai - far north of Guangzhou but still on the southern side of the Yangzi - complain that winters are particularly brutal. Citizens there must tolerate icy temperatures and no public heating.
The coldest days in Guangzhou are from late January to mid February, falling during the biggest holiday for the Chinese - Spring Festival. Fortunately, the warmth of family gatherings and festive feasts help people cope with the humid chill.
Another good thing about winter is the Official Flower of Guangzhou, the Kapok, comes into bloom all over the city, when fiery red blossoms erupt from hard leafless twigs, boosting the spirit of the people in the midst of the winter gloom.
A line of blooming Kapok trees stand on Lingyuan Xi St. in Guangzhou.
Wet spring and dry autumn
Spring in Guangzhou (from late February to mid May) sees many humid, misty, and cloudy days. It can be a bit annoying here, unlike northern China, where people welcome this warm season after long and frigid winters.
The ample rainfall and overwhelming humidity during the spring months can be bothersome. The city is soaked by continuous "plum rains" around the turn of March and April - the season of the plum blossoms - when citizens must use dehumidifiers and keep their windows closed against the wetness.
Autumn is arguably Guangzhou's best season, but only lasts from November to mid December, when conditions are dry, clear and pleasantly cool.
The ancient Chen Clan Academy, a historical landmark in Guangzhou, is peacefully in spring rain. (Guangzhou Daily / Li Xuyang)
The Pearl River section west to the Haiyin Bridge in downtown Guangzhou on a clear autumn day. (Lifeofguangzhou.com/Yang Xiaonan)
(Ronald Li and Stephen Roach )