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Climate of Gambia

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The Gambia's climate is a sub-tropical climate with two variations of distinct dry and rainy seasons. The dry season generally starts in October and ends around mid-June each year. The best time of the year to go on holiday to Gambia is between early November to early April, when the beaches are a lot more pleasant for sunbathing.

Fanned by the north-east trade winds the average daytime temperature along the Atlantic beach hotel resorts is 24 Centigrade / 75.2 Fahrenheit. The average daytime temperature for the whole country is 32C / 91F.

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In the evenings the temperature drops to around 16C / 60F. Along the western part of the country, known as he Kombos, temperatures are moderated by Atlantic Ocean with less seasonal and daily variability in daytime temperatures. There are about 9 hours of sunshine everyday with virtually clear skies during the dry spell.

Between January to May the humidity level is at 50-60%. This period is characterised by several phases. The first half of this period is generally cool and dry and the early stages can sometimes be marked by cloudy days but no rain and there is considerable cooling off in the evening. The second half is marked by very cool, dry winds in the evenings and warm sunny days on the coast and at the capital.

Up-country, between February and May, the climate is characterised by the so called Harmattan where the air is very dry, dusty winds add a haze to the atmosphere making visibility difficult (50m.) and puts a blanket of fine dust particles (from the Sahara and Sahel) over the land. This lasts for around one or two weeks at a time.

The other distinct climatic season is the rainy season, known locally as "Nawet", which is caused by the summer heat causing the air in the Sahara to rise thus creating an area of low pressure which encourages monsoons as it meets with the north east trade winds coming of the Atlantic Ocean in an inter-tropical front. Fog can occur off the coast when the relatively warm Guinea stream meets the cooler Canary current. This rainy period starts around the middle of June and ends around the middle of October with August being the wettest month of the year. Relative humidity levels can rise to 95% and temperatures can reach a skin tingling 43 Celsius / 109.4 Fahrenheit.

The annual precipitation in most parts of the country is around 51 inches (1,296 Millimetres) and sunny periods occur on most days. The storms are very often short and spectacular as huge volumes of rain descend on the land transforming from brown parched patches to a to a rich green landscape of foliage. Normally the cloudbursts occur during the night time and when they occur during the day they are short-lived leaving clear blue skies. For birdwatchers and anglers this is the best time to come and visit Gambia as the land and wildlife burst into life.

Be Prepared on Your Holiday:
Because of the rainy conditions at this time of the year it also becomes the malaria season as mosquito populations run rampant and it is advisable to rub some insect repellent particularly during the hours of dusk. The high humidity in August and September causes the atmosphere to feel unbearably sticky so when on your travel excursions drink plenty of water.

What to wear on Vacation?:
Because of the hot climate the best clothes to bring along to Gambia are casual and loose fitting, preferably cotton shorts and T-shirts for more comfort. A hat is also recommended as protection against the scorching afternoon sun. During the winter months the evenings can sometimes be quite cool and breezy, so a sweater or jacket may be useful.

See also Dress Code

Average Mean Conditions:
Temperature average 24C / 75F
Day temperatures 32C / 89F
Night temperatures 16C / 61F
Sunlight hours 8.41
Daytime humidity 84%
Wind speed 5.77 mph
Barometer air pressure 29.8
Rainfall per annum 1,296 millimetres

Monitoring Base:
Longitude: 16.63 W
Latitude: 13.20 N
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