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Climate and Weather

Egypt - Climate and Weather

It’s easy to imagine that all there is in Egypt are deserts. In fact, different areas of the country have their own microclimate, although the summer sun is hot wherever you are.

The Climate of Egypt’s North Coast

The north coast of Egypt, where the historic city of Alexandria is located, enjoys a Mediterranean climate.

Although winter lasts from December to March, the weather is mild. Temperatures drop to a low of 9 °C (or 48°F) in January and February, meaning frosts and snow are unknown in this area. Meanwhile, highs at this time of year reach 19 °C (or 66 °F) and daytimes are very pleasant, although they can be windy.

The only time rain can be expected is during the winter months, in particular January and February. Heavy rainfall is very rare. Only about 200mm (eight inches) of rain falls in Alexandria each year.

During the long, dry, summer months, the temperature rises significantly to reach highs of 30 °C (or 86 °F) in July, August and September. The air can feel muggy as humidity is high, especially if you are in the Nile River Delta. Luckily, most areas of the north coast enjoy a sea breeze throughout summer which makes the climate more pleasant than it otherwise would be.

The Mediterranean sea around Egypt’s north coast is warm enough to swim in all year round. It is most pleasant from July to October, reaching an average of 25/26°C (or 77/79 °F). The sea is coolest in February and March, when it is an average of 17°C (or 63 °F).

Cairo is situated at the edge of the Nile Delta. It therefore sits in the zone between the north coast and the desert regions, making it a less enjoyable climate for the summer than Alexandria enjoys. The most pleasant month in Cairo is usually November.

The Climate Of Egypt’s Inland Deserts

In the Egyptian interior sits vast areas of desert, which get hotter the further south you go. Not surprisingly, rain is almost non-existent in these deserts, and humidity is very low.

You can guarantee a clear sky on most days, which means there is no cover from the sun for up to 12 hours a day. During winter days this is more pleasant, with temperatures reaching highs of 23 °C (or 73 °F) in January. However, by the height of summer in June, July and August, the dry heat will reach a breath-taking 41°C (or 106°F)!

After dark the clear skies let all the heat escape and the desert will become very cold. Temperatures may drop close to freezing (0 °C or 32 °F), although lows of 6 °C (or 43 °F) are more normal.

The most pleasant month to be in this area is usually December.

The Climate of Egypt’s Red Sea Region

The Red Sea coastal area around Hurghada has milder desert conditions. Although the rain rarely falls in this area at any time of the year, the nearby sea makes the humid air cooler.

The most pleasant conditions in this area are in spring and autumn. During the summer months, temperatures are high, especially around the area of Sharm el Sheik, where winds blow in from the desert. Temperatures can hit as high as 38°C (or 100 °F) in July and August.

Between April and June the hot, dry winds can create dust or sand storms. When these occur, you should get indoors as quickly as possible and stay there until the storm has ended. The sand and dirt flits into your eyes and skin, covers your hair, clothes and skin in particles, and makes both driving and walking dangerous.

However, winter brings comfortable, mild temperatures with highs of 21/22 °C (70/72 °F) and lows of around 10/12 °C (50/54 °F) in January. Southern parts of this region are warmer than the northern area.

From January to March, the temperature of the Red Sea is 21/22°C (or 70/72 °F). Between April and December it’s warmer, with highs of 28°C (or 82°F) in August and September.

The higher altitude of the terrain around Mount Sinai means this area has its own microclimate. Night time temperatures can be so low that frosts form, and occasionally a light snowfall occurs. Summer daytimes bring higher temperatures than the coast enjoys.

Protect Yourself From The Sun In Egypt

It is easy to think of the high temperatures in Egypt and decide light summer clothes are all you need. However, the clear link between sun exposure and fast growing, untreatable skin cancers are well known. It does not matter what your skin tone is, you should always protect yourself from the sun in Egypt.

Firstly, always use a high factor sun cream and reapply it regularly. This is particularly important when you are going into the sea or the swimming pool, as water provides no protection and washes off the sun cream.

Secondly, remember to wear a hat outside during daylight. It’s easy to get a sunburnt head through your hair, and the sun can quickly give you a headache and cause sunstroke.

It is a good idea to cover your skin as thoroughly as you can. If you look at the traditional dress of Egyptian men and women, they have covered legs, bodies, arms and heads. This is not just a religious tradition, it is a practical response to the environment. If you are wearing a pair of linen slacks and a T-shirt, adding a lightweight cotton shirt seems counter-intuitive given the temperature, but will keep your skin safe.

Even your eyes need to be protected against strong sunlight. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to find a pair of sunglasses which will block out the harmful UVA/UVB rays.

Don’t forget to always carry water or be somewhere it can readily be purchased. Sunstroke can be fatal and the symptoms develop quickly. Outside of Cairo, problems with tap water can make it unsafe to drink, whilst the clean tap water of Cairo contains heavy doses of chlorine, which affects the taste. When you buy bottled water, check that the seal is intact.

If you have a hire car, it can be tempting to set off across the desert for fun. If you do so, make sure you have left clear instructions about your destination with friends or relatives and let them know when you have returned safely. Egypt has an ongoing security situation – there are a number of areas you are advised to avoid altogether – and you are an easy target in a remote area. However, an even more significant threat is the desert landscape. If you break down, or wander too far from the vehicle, and don’t have enough water to keep you hydrated, your life will be in jeopardy.

Footwear In Egypt

On well-paved streets, pretty sandals and heels will be fine. Make sure the visible areas of your feet are protected with sunscreen.

Walking on sand is difficult and exhausting, so if you are heading off to the desert, a sensible pair of trainers will be essential. Sand can get very hot to the touch, so walking barefoot in the desert or on the beach is best avoided for most of the year.

If you are visiting a beach, invest in a pair of beach shoes. They are lightweight and waterproof, but will stop you hurting your soles if you step on a sharp stone or broken shell.

Read more about this country

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