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Climate - Burkina Faso

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go, what to pack

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Flag - Burkina Faso

Map - Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, the climate is tropical, with a rainy season in the summer months due to the African monsoon, and a dry season in winter. In the north, the rainy season is shorter and less intense, so the climate is semi-arid, while in the south the rains last longer and are able to feed a lusher vegetation, in fact there are nature reserves having the flora and fauna of the savannah.
North of Burkina Faso
The northern part belongs to the Sahel climate zone, in fact the northernmost region is called "Sahel Region", where less than 600 millimetres of rain per year fall. In Dori, in the north, only 500 mm of rain fall in a year, and precipitation exceeds 50 mm per month only from June to September; with a maximum in August. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation Dori
Dori J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 0 0 3 5 20 55 120 160 70 10 0 0 446
Days 0 0 1 1 4 6 11 12 8 2 0 0 45

In the capital Ouagadougou, located in the centre of the country, the rains amount to nearly 740 mm per year, concentrated from May to early October, while in the rest of the year they are sporadic, especially in winter when it hardly ever rains, as in the rest of the country. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation Ouagadougou
Ouagadougou J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 0 1 5 25 65 100 175 215 120 35 1 0 744
Days 0 0 1 3 8 10 14 16 11 5 0 0 68

In the south the rainfall exceeds 1,000 mm per year, and the rainy season is longer. In Bobo Dioulasso, the second city of the country, precipitation amounts to 1,000 mm per year, while in Gaoua, it amounts to 1,200 mm per year.
Here is the average precipitation in Bobo Dioulasso.
Average precipitation Bobo Dioulasso
Bobo Dioulasso J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 1 3 15 45 100 130 195 270 170 60 8 1 1001
Days 0 0 3 5 9 11 15 19 15 7 1 0 85

The Karfiguela falls are located in the south, near Banfora, in the rainiest region of the country.


The temperatures in Burkina Faso are high throughout the year. In winter, the air is dry due to the prevalence of the northeast winds, but highs are around 30/32 °C in north and 32/33 °C in the south even in the coolest months, ie December and January, and sometimes it can get even hotter. The prevailing north-east wind, called Harmattan, is able to lift up the dust making the sky white, but can also cause real sandstorms. Storms can occur in spring as well, for the clash with the moist air masses advancing inland from the ocean.
Here are the average temperatures of Ouagadougou.
Ouagadougou average temperatures
Ouagadougou J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 17 19 24 26 26 24 23 22 22 23 20 17
Max (°C) 33 36 38 39 38 35 32 31 33 36 36 33

In February, the temperature begins to rise, and the heat becomes torrid. While in the south the first rains begin quite soon, increasing the humidity but also hindering the increase of temperature, in the north and partly in the centre the heat increases until April and May, when highs reach normally 40/42 °C. In May and June, the first significant rains from the south may be preceded or accompanied by whirlwinds and tornadoes, due to the clash with the existing dry air. Between July and September, when the monsoon manifests its greatest effects, the heat is reduced everywhere, but in the meantime it has become tropical, with a maximum on 28/32 °C, and the moist air that makes the heat annoying. However, even in summer there can still be some torrid days, in the pauses of the monsoon, especially in the north where the monsoon is less intense and consistent.
In October and November, the heat starts to increase again with the withdrawal of the monsoon, more in the north, where highs return to about 40 °C, than in the south, where they remain around 35 °C.
As you can see, in Burkina Faso it's hot all year round. However, during winter sometimes it can get a little cold at night: the cold records are around 6/7 °C in the north, and 10 °C in the south. The highest recorded temperatures are impressive, especially in the north, where they touched 47/48 °C in April and May, while in the south they are around 42/44 °C; in addition, in the south they were recorded between February and April, and even in January in the extreme south, where the winter sun is stronger because of the proximity to the Equator.

When to go

The best time to visit Burkina Faso is winter, especially the months of December and January: the weather is good, the air is hot but dry. Sometimes at night it can be a little cold in the north, while during the day it can get hot everywhere, but especially in the south. Starting in February, the heat increases and becomes intense from the south, then spring is very hot everywhere. Summer is rainy, and sometimes heavy rains can cause flooding. All in all even November, which is a torrid month, can be chosen because it is not so different from December and January, especially in the south.

What to pack

In winter: light clothes for the day, long, loose fitting and of natural fabric (cotton or linen), desert turban for the wind-borne sand and dust, sunglasses (even graduated instead of contact lenses), a jacket and a sweater for the evening, desert boots or sandals.
In summer: light, tropics-friendly clothes, light sweater and light raincoat (or umbrella) for the rain showers.

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