If you’re traveling to Kota Kinbalu, Sabah or Borneo on a holiday for that dream vacation, you’re inevitably looking for a weather forecast.
You might be surprised to find anything other than today’s weather saying cloudy with a chance of thunder storms. A forecast like that is always a good guess, but isn’t always true. How about the most recent weather observation from our Twitter Account?
Sabah is situated in the tropics just above the equator between about 4N and 7N, with weather which is almost always hot and always humid.
Average temperatures, especially in Kota Kinabalu, hover around 30 – 32 °C, with an exceptionally hot day that can rocket to 38 °C, or a cool night that can dip to 22 °C. Brrrr!
In the mountainous regions it can get as cold as 15 °C at night, but the coldest place in Sabah is the peak of Mt. Kinabalu, which at 4,095m above sea level, can touch zero. Mt. Kinabalu has a climate of her own though, and the rest of the weather which is true of Kota Kinabalu and Sabah, isn’t always true for Mt. Kinabalu.
Since around October 2015 until now (Feb 2016) Sabah has, like many other parts of the world, experience the extreme inverse of the expected season.
Where this would normally have been the start of the “wet” season, especially in Kota Kinabalu, it has been exceptionally hot and dry, with many consecutive days of bright blue sky, which is not that common.
Seasonal Weather in Sabah
Sabah is sometimes referred to as “The Land Below the Wind” due to being just below the typhoon and monsoon belt.
That is the reason Sabah is spared from the region’s adverse weather conditions. Having said that, in recent years the northern tip of Borneo has caught more wind than before.
Wet season and dry season are 2 sub-season that divide Sabah’s perpetual summer, although rain really can be expected year round. Wet season typically runs from October to March, with April to September labeled as the dry season, although in my humble opinion should just be referred to as the not-so-wet season.
But even when it rains, hardly ever a whole day is spoiled, as downpours last 1 or 2 hours and can most often be expected in the afternoon or evening. Thus mornings are often the best bet for planning out door activities which you think might be spoiled by a bit of rain.
Rain also livens up the jungle as it energizes the forest critters and makes the green of Borneo all that much greener. Rain is vital to sustain the vast jungles of Sabah. After all, it’s not called a rain forest for nothing.
Kota Kinabalu Climate Overview
Kota Kinabalu and the west coast of Sabah’s climate is sometimes starkly different to inland Sabah, thanks to the Crocker Range Mountains forming a ridge all along the coast, protecting it from much of the harsher weather sometimes experienced inland.
Looking at the rainfall below you might be alarmed by the amount. However, when it rains it rains very hard, so a huge amount of rainfall can be recorded in an hour and then it might not rain again for the next week or two.
Let’s have a look at the monthly temperatures, annual rainfall and yearly average climate of Kota Kinabalu.
|Avg High °C||30||29||29||30||31||31||31||30||30||30||30||30||30|
|Avg Low °C||22||22||22||23||23||23||23||23||23||23||23||23||23|
|Avg. Rainfall (mm)||2,621||119||60||74||128||228||290||258||259||310||351||304||241|
Sandakan Climate Overview
Sandakan is on Sabah’s east coast and her proximity to the Philippines is reflected in the markedly different rainfall patterns, although even the east coast is still spared from the extreme weather that the Philippines often experience.
Let’s have a look at the monthly temperatures, annual rainfall and yearly average climate of Sandakan.
|Avg High °C||30||28||28||30||31||31||31||31||31||31||31||30||29|
|Avg Low °C||24||24||24||24||24||24||24||23||23||23||23||24||24|
|Avg. Rainfall (mm)||3060||410||250||200||110||150||190||180||200||240||260||350||450|
Days usually start off bright and blue, with cloud cover rolling in towards afternoon, which is a good thing, as Sabah’s famous sunsets need some cloud to be truly spectacular.
Seeing as how most often mornings are bright, if you’re planning must-be-without-rain activities, then getting them done as early in the day as possible will increase your chances of avoiding the rain.
If you think the sun in Borneo burns in a different way, you’re right. Sunburn risk is always present, even on overcast days, so remember to apply sunblock regularly and cover up.
Fair-skinned people beware: the sun here doesn’t feel so hot (perhaps because the air is already hot), but many a pink lobster can be spotted about town at night.
What time does the sun rise and set in Kota Kinabalu & Sabah?
Being close to the equator sunrise and sunset in Sabah varies very little during the year. Following the northern hemisphere’s seasons, summer sunrise occurs as early as 5.45am and sunset as late as 6.40pm.
The winter sunrise occurs as late as 6.30am and sunset as early as 5.45pm.
All said Sabah is a year-round destination. The weather, if anything, contributes to her splendour and should be enjoyed as such.