In general, Afghanistan has extremely cold winters and hot summers, typical of a semiarid steppe climate. There are many regional variations, however. While the mountain regions of the northeast have a sub arctic climate with dry, cold winters, the mountainous areas on the border of Pakistan are influenced by the Indian monsoons, usually coming between July and September and bringing maritime tropical air masses with humidity and rains. In addition, strong winds blow almost daily in the southwest during the summer.
Local variation is also produced by differences in altitude. The weather in winter and early spring is strongly influenced by cold air masses from the north and the Atlantic low depression from the northwest; these two air masses bring snowfall and severe cold in the highlands and rain in the lower altitudes.
Afghanistan has a wide range of temperatures. High temperatures over 95 F (35 C) have been recorded in the drought-ridden Southwestern Plateau region. In Jalalabad, one of the hottest localities in the country, the highest temperature of 120 F (49 C) has been recorded in July. January temperatures may drop to 5 F (-15 C) and below in the high mountain areas, while at the city of Kabul, located at an altitude of 5,900 feet, the lowest temperature has been recorded at -24 F (-31 C).
In the mountains the annual mean precipitation increases from west to east; there, as in the southeastern monsoon region, it averages about 16 inches (400 millimeters). The extremes of precipitation have been recorded in the Salang Pass of the Hindu Kush, with the highest annual precipitation of 53 inches, and in the arid region of Farah in the west, with only three inches a year. Most of the country's precipitation occurs from December to April; in the highlands snow falls from December to March, while in the lowlands it rains intermittently from December to April or May. The summer months are hot, dry, and cloudless everywhere but in the monsoon region.