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Ecuador - Climate and Weather
One thing’s for sure though – the pleasant climate came up again and again in our Interviews With Expats Living In Ecuador article.
Ecuador’s Position On The Equator
Ecuador is one of 13 countries which lies on the equator, the imaginary line which divides the Earth into its northern and southern hemispheres. At zero degrees latitude, the North and South Poles are an equal distance away.
Equatorial countries typically experience high temperatures combined with high humidity and year-round rains. This is true for the eastern part of Ecuador, as well as the northernmost part of the coast.
However, other factors come to play elsewhere in Ecuador, meaning the equatorial climate only holds sway in some areas.
At the northern end of Ecuador’s coast, and across the vast area of Amazon rainforest to the east of the country, the equatorial climate brings year-round heat and moisture.
The forests and mangroves receive up to 3,000 millimetres, or 118 inches, of rainfall each year. Most of this arrives with thunderstorms and heavy showers in the afternoon, although there is less rainfall from November to March. Luckily the rain is warm, so getting wet won’t chill you to the bone.
However, the air is thick with moisture at any time during daylight, which leaves you feeling sticky and uncomfortable in the heat. The cooler evenings are more pleasant.
July is the coolest month, averaging 23 °C (73 °F). However, rain and heat are the norm whatever the month of the year.
Ecuador’s Mountains And Volcanoes
The central region of Ecuador, running north to south, is home to the two mountain ranges of the Andes.
There are also several volcanoes in this region, including Chimborazo, whose peak hits 6,268 metres, or 20,564 feet. Several other volcanoes are not far behind in their imposing height.
There are a number of glaciers in this region, including 20 on Cayambe. Rising temperatures mean the glaciers are melting and disappearing at an alarming rate, and those in Ecuador are no exception. According to Ecuador's leading glaciologist, Bolivar Cereces, the effects of climate change mean glaciers below 5,000 metres, or 16,500 feet, will soon be a thing of the past.
Glaciers are an important source of water for local people. Even Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, consumes water from the fast-melting Antisana glacier. Whilst this is helpful at a time of decreasing rainfall, it has implications for future water supplies in the region.
Larger populations of the region can be found on the plateaus between the mountain ranges. The capital city of Quito, for example, sits on a plateau at 2,850 metres, or 9.350 feet, above sea level. That makes it the second highest capital in the world, only surpassed for high altitude by La Paz in Bolivia.
Climate In Ecuador’s Mountainous Terrain
The altitude determines the weather and climate in this region. Mild temperatures occur throughout the year. From December to May, daytime lows of Quito average 10 °C (50°C), which falls very slightly to 9 °C (48°C) for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, highs can reach 21°C (70°C) in September, 20°C (68°C) between May and November, and 19°C (66°C) the rest of the year.
At night, temperatures sometimes fall to freezing, although this is rare unless you are at a higher altitude than Quito. It also rarely snows in Ecuador, meaning a light jumper will usually suffice.
In this region, July and August are dry months with little rain, and an average of seven hours of sunshine a day can be enjoyed, although the western slopes are more typically overcast. Rainfall is frequent from October to May, with sunshine averaging five or six hours a day, falling to four in April. The amount of rain tends to increase the further south you go.
Ecuador’s Western Plain And Coast
While Ecuador sits on the Equator, the country’s western plain and coast has a tropical climate which is influenced by cool ocean currents.
The terrain is large, meaning the climate varies. For example, the dry season for the northern area lasts from July to November, but for the southern area it is much longer, from May to December.
Local conditions vary according to the landscape. So not only does the rainy season last longer in the north, but locations near the Andes are much wetter than those along the long stretch of coast to the west.
Even on dry days, the sun can be shielded by a misty layer. Around Esmeraldas, four hours of sunshine a day is typical in March and April, but the rest of the year, this region averages just two hours of sunshine a day.
The temperatures are high all year round at the most northerly part of the coast, meaning the sea there is warm enough to swim in every day. The water is about 26/27 °C (79/81°F) every day.
Moving down the coast to the middle of Ecuador, temperatures are only slightly lower for the winter and spring seasons. February highs of 30 °C (86°F) and lows of 23 °C (73°F) fall to 28°C (82°F) and 20 °C (68°F) from July to November. This area is significantly drier, due to the cool sea currents. However, sunshine is limited to five hours a day in March and April, and drops to three hours a day between June and December, due to cloud and mists.
Further down to the Southern end of the coast is a peninsula where rainfall is light and will rarely occur outside the period of January to April. The years in which the El Niño phenomenon occurs can cause flooding through heavy rainfall and rising sea levels, although this happens rarely. As a result of the typically light rainfall, this area is home to a desert.
From January to April, the location becomes a tourist hotspot, with visitors enjoying the sun and warm sea waters. Outside the tourist season, the area is much cooler. Throughout July to October, temperatures average highs of 24 °C (75 °F) and lows of 19 °C (66°F), while the sea dips down to a cooler 21 °C (70°F).
The Galapagos Islands
Thanks to volcanic upheavals, 19 islands emerged from the sea bed to create an archipelago which is home to an astonishing and fascinating array of wildlife. Today, the natural wonders of the Galapagos islands bring in tourists from around the globe.
These islands have a dry season from June to December. The weather is usually cool and misty at this time of year. The waters are also cooler to swim in.
During the rainy months, the islands enjoy plenty of sunshine and warmth. Ocean breezes help maintain average temperatures of 28°C (82°F).
What To Wear In Ecuador
Your wardrobe in Ecuador will be dependent on where you live and the time of year.
Lightweight, loose fitting clothes are essential for warm days. If you are in the vicinity of mosquitos, keep your arms and legs covered. If you plan to walk around forests and other places with unseen wildlife, wear a good pair of walking boots which are high enough to protect your ankle.
For cool days or evenings, a light sweatshirt will usually suffice. However, sometimes a warmer sweatshirt will be appreciated. If you’re travelling to the high mountains, a heavy jacket, hat and thick gloves will come in handy. The snow-topped mountains might lead you to think it snows a lot in Ecuador; but the reality is that nearly all the terrain will never see any snow at all.
With plenty of rain in most areas, you will need an umbrella and a lightweight rain jacket. Be aware of the signs of dehydration and make sure you have access to clean drinking water at all times.
If you are working in a city office, air conditioning will keep you cool in a linen suit.
Read more about this country
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