Reports of Montevideo's classic Mediterranean climate have been much exaggerated. Locals complain that weather is becoming less and less predictable, with occasional hot periods in early spring and late autumn and – less pleasantly – destructive winter storms. In any case, the closest European climatic equivalent is Lisbon; if you are in North America think the shore of South Carolina.

Average highs in the summer (December – February) are 27°C - 29°C with lows in the 17°C - 19°C bracket. On the rare summer nights when there is no breeze, the city can be as breathless as Buenos Aires. Dramatic thunderstorms build up from time to time in the summer.

You should take precautions against the sun in Uruguay. The rays, both in spring and in summer, are very strong. Many Uruguayans don't go to the beach before 4 pm in the summer after news broke about a hole in the ozone layer directly above the country. Others have stopped sun-bathing altogether. One Uruguayan dies of skin cancer every four days.

The coldest month is July with an average low of 8°C. But watch out for the pampero, a weather system than originates in the northern part of Patagonia and brings temperatures to the Uruguayan capital that can, on occasions, drop to nearly zero. Most rain falls in the spring and summer (October to March). Montevideo is a windy city and winter days – which are invariably sunny – often feel colder than they really are. Similarly, winter nights feel colder than they really are – not just because of the biting wind but because of the inadequacy of heating systems in many private homes and in cheaper hotels. It has never snowed in Montevideo.

Conclusion: expect the unexpected. On 13 February 1914 a drop of 18°C was recorded in the river port of Mercedes in the space of an hour and a quarter. Newspaper reports from that month tell of masses of bob-haired young things scrambling desperately for their cardigans.