Weather in Ladakh

In One Word it is unpredictable !!!

Ladakh weather is an enigma, though there are certain guidelines that one must follow but overall it is difficult to say that you will get only this kind of weather at a particular time of the year .. Here are general rule of thumb for Ladakh visit

Rain & Snowfall in Ladakh

Ladakh is a dry barren landscape with very scanty rainfall. There is no Monsoon season in Ladakh as the south westerly clouds are unable to cross the lower Himalayas. However, the westerly disturbance do make their way into the Ladakh region and cause showers. On an average a couple of days in a month and then the weather clears. This can happen at any time of the year but it never like the monsoon rains for weeks together.

Fresh Snowfall @ Chang La in July

When it rains in Leh it is almost certain that the upper reaches of the Himalayas are receiving snowfall i.e. the passes like Khardung La, Chang La or Wari La. Depending on the rain, it could be a mild snowfall or heavy snowfall. There is generally no impact of light drizzle or light snowfall and the region gets a new look with fresh snowfall. But when the rain persists for long or it is a heavy downpour ( It happened in 2011 ), it causes landslides and road blocks and your trip can be impacted. This is however an aberration and not a regular weather pattern.

Dealing with Harsh Sun of Ldakh

To protect against the sun in Ladakh, always take the following precaution

  • Wear a hat ( Not a cap but a hat )
  • Wear full sleeves, if you are in the sun for long. For short duration, you can apply sun screen and go but for long duration always wear a full sleeve.
  • Cotton or play dry ( climalite from Adidas or similar kind of clothing )  generally works the best in Sun. Don’t wear other synthetic stuff instead Cotton is best
  • Drink plenty of water as air is very dry and one dehydrates quickly
  • Use lots of moisturizer
  • For dry lips, drinking water is the key. So drink more then usual. One does not sweat in Ladakh and you will not realize that you are loosing moisture.

Sun in Ladakh is pretty strong and can cause sun burn if proper precaution is not taken

Dealing with Cold and Varying Temperatures of Ladakh

To protect against the cold and variable temperatures, take the following precaution

  • Wear clothing in layer with outer layers handy with you during the drive or while walking around in Leh
  • Innermost layer, a cotton t-shirt Or thermal
  • Second layer, a fleece jacket or a snug pullover.
  • Outer layer, a wind proof and/or water repellent jacket. A down feather jacket can do the dual job but do carry a lighter woolen jacket as well since it may get warmer when you descend to lower altitude.
  • Gloves
  • A beanie ( Or a woolen cap )

As we ascend and descend the temperature changes, for example when you are driving to Nubra valley you will be crossing Khardung La which is at around 18,500 ft. It is always cold or very cold there. You may also encounter light snow fall during the afternoon at Khardung La. So warm outer layers with gloves and caps should always be readily available to you in your car.

Even during the time of day, the weather may vary, so carry protective layer with you. Afternoon may be warm and evening may be cold.

Gloves and woolen cap may never be required in Leh during the day time when the sun is out.

Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Sarchu and all high altitude passes are always cold or very cold depending on the month of travel

Weather in May & before mid of June

It is the beginning of the summer and hence depending on the snowfall in winters you will encounter snow in the higher altitudes. You won’t encounter snow in Leh but you will definitely encounter snow when you are crossing the high altitude passes for example

  • Khardung La
  • Chang La
  • Baralacha La
  • Rohtang La
  • Zoji La

Minimum temperature may be close to 5-6 degrees i..e during early morning or late in the night

However, as the sun starts shining the temperature may rise to up to 20 degrees as well during the day time and you may be very comfortable in a T-shirt as well. If there are clouds, then even during the day the temperature could be lower then 10 degrees in May or early June.

Carry mostly winter clothing as well as some summer clothing during this time.

Weather from Mid June , July & August

It turns mostly warm during this time, the night temperature begin to rise and you will be comfortable in mostly summer clothing. But be prepared and do carry at least one good heavy woolen set with you.

Carry mostly summer clothing during this time but be prepared for cold conditions

Sept and Beyond

This is when the weather starts to turn from warm to cool to cold as we move from Sept beginning to end of September. The region starts welcoming the autumn from end Sept and the landscape takes hues of orange to welcome the winters. It is absolutely magical during this time as the sky is mostly blue and its pleasantly cold even during the day. You will need mostly winter clothing throughout your trip.

Carry mostly winter clothing as well as some summer clothing during this time

This weather may not be suitable for biking trips as the wind is biting cold and extra and specialised gear will be required to do a road trip on motorbike.

Finally, above are just guidelines and it will be hard to predict exactly how the weather will play out.

 

  1. Mihir Kale says:

    Hello, the information is very enlightening… I wish to go by bullet… Can u tell me about the driving conditions and the spots where I can stop during the travel… And do I have to ride in the snow as well during the trip ??
    Can u please reply me on my email id ??

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