In Nigeria, the climate is tropical, semi-arid in the far north, and progressively rainier as you move southward.
In fact, there is a rainy season due to the African monsoon, which is progressively longer and more intense from north to south. In the north (see Sokoto, Kano, Maiduguri), the rainy season lasts only four months, from June to September; in the center (see Abuja), it goes from April to October; while in the south (see Lagos, Benin City, Port Harcourt), it goes from March to October; and finally, in the south-east, which is the wettest area (see Calabar), it goes from March to November.
Annual precipitation is below 500 millimeters (20 inches) in the extreme north-east, on the shores of Lake Chad, it ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 mm (40 to 60 in) in the central region, it exceeds 2,000 mm (80 in) in the south, and it even exceeds 3,000 mm (120 in) in the far south-east (the map below shows the average rainfall, in millimeters on the left and in inches on the right). It follows that the vegetation varies considerably, in fact, in the north, we find the semi-arid Sahelian landscape, the savannah in the center, the forests in the south, and the mangroves in the Niger Delta and the coastal areas. In the north, but especially in the far north-east, in the area of Lake Chad, where the rains are not very heavy even in summer, there is an alternation of rainy and sunny periods, during which the heat returns to be intense, even in the rainy season.
The rains cease in mid-September in the far north, and during the month of October in the center, while they linger until November in the far south. Along with sunny weather, hot and dry conditions return in the center-north, while in the south, the humidity remains higher because of the influence of the sea.

Rainfall in Nigeria

The temperatures also vary in a remarkable way depending on the climatic zones. In the north, winter is warm and dry; it can get uncomfortably hot during the day, up to 40 °C (104 °F), but it's usually cool at night, and it can even get cold in the northern hilly areas, where cold records are around freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). By February, the heat increases in all the inland areas, and it becomes scorching in the center-north from March to May, when temperatures can easily reach 40 °C (104 °F). On the contrary, in the south, the increase in temperature is limited, both because of the proximity to the ocean and because the rain showers begin earlier. The rains increase in intensity and frequency and gradually move to the north, until they affect all the country in June. In the area where the wet front advances, clashing with the existing hot and dry air mass, small tornadoes may form. From June to September, the air is humid and the sky is usually cloudy throughout the country; temperatures are uniform, and are everywhere around 28/30 °C (82/86 °F); the daytime temperatures are lower than in winter, but relative humidity is higher.

The north

In the north, winter nights are cool, and sometimes even cold. From March to May, the temperatures increase rapidly, and the heat becomes scorching; in summer, when the monsoon arrives, the temperature decreases, but at the same time, the humidity increases.


Here are the average temperatures of Kano, located at 500 meters (1,600 feet) above sea level, in the north.
Kano - Average temperatures
Min (°C)121418222322212021191512
Max (°C)303337393834312931343431
Min (°F)545764727372706870665954
Max (°F)86919910210093888488939388

In Kano, precipitation doesn't reach 900 mm (35.5 in) per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Kano - Average precipitation

In Kano, the sun shines all year round, but in summer, the sunshine hours decrease a little because of the monsoon. July and August, in addition to being the wettest months, are also the least sunny.
Kano - Sunshine

The center

In the center, winter is hot, with highs around 33/35 °C (91/95 °F) in December and January. In this period, the Harmattan often blows, a wind able to bring dust from the desert and to reduce visibility. But then, the monsoon arrives earlier, so much so that the temperature begins to decrease already during the month of April.


Here are the average temperatures in Abuja, the capital, located in the center of the country, at 500 meters (1,600 feet) above sea level.
Abuja - Average temperatures
Min (°C)202624252018221818211616
Max (°C)353737363331292930323435
Min (°F)687975776864726464706161
Max (°F)959999979188848486909395

In Abuja, rainfall amounts to 1,200 mm (47 in) per year, including more than 100 mm (4 in) per month from May to October. Here is the average rainfall.
Abuja - Average precipitation

In the central area, where the rainy season is longer, the sunshine hours decrease for a longer period.
Abuja - Sunshine

Zuma Rock


In the Jos Plateau, in the center of the country, the temperature is fairly mild: in Jos, the capital of the Plateau State, located at 1,200 meters (3,900 feet), daytime temperatures range from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 31/32 °C (88/90 °F) in March and April, while they drop to around 24/25 °C (75/77 °F) in July and August.
Jos - Average temperatures
Min (°C)141618191818171717171614
Max (°C)283032312927252427292928
Min (°F)576164666464636363636157
Max (°F)828690888481777581848482

The altitude enhances atmospheric instability in the rainy months, so the rains are more abundant than in surrounding areas, and they range from 1,300 mm (51 in) per year in the state capital to more than 1,500 mm (60 in) in the rest of the plateau.

On the border with Cameroon, there is a mountainous area, where the Gashaka Gumti National Park is located, and the highest peak is Chappal Waddi, 2,419 meters (7,936 feet) high. Here, it's cool above 1,500 meters (5,000 feet).

The coast

In the south, in cities located in the coastal area (Lagos, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Calabar), winter is hot, with highs around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F), but it's also more humid, though tempered by afternoon breezes; here, cloudy skies are frequent, at least in the morning, while in the north and center, as mentioned, the winter is sunny. Sometimes, however, the Harmattan can arrive also on the coast. In this area, the temperature in spring does not increase almost at all, both because of the presence of the sea and because the rains begin early.

Harmattan in Lagos


In Lagos, a large metropolis, where the urban heat island effect is noticeable, in addition to moisture coming from the sea and the lagoon, the heat is particularly unpleasant, but at least, being on the coast, it receives the breeze from the sea as well. Here are the average temperatures of Lagos.
Lagos - Average temperatures
Min (°C)222424242323222222222322
Max (°C)323333323129282829303132
Min (°F)727575757373727272727372
Max (°F)909191908884828284868890

In the western part of the coast, between mid-July and late August, the rains diminish a bit: in Lagos, June is the wettest month with 310 mm (12 in), then the rainfall decreases to 255 mm (10 in) in July and to 110 mm (4.3 in) in August, but the sky remains cloudy and moisture high. Here is the average precipitation in Lagos.
Lagos - Average precipitation

In Lagos, and in general in the south of Nigeria, the sun does not shine very often, even in the dry period, while in the rainy season, the sky is often cloudy.
Lagos - Sunshine

The sea in Nigeria is warm enough to swim in all year round, although care must be taken with regard to the currents. However, as mentioned, the sun does not shine very often on the coast, even in the dry months. Here are the average sea temperatures near Lagos.
Lagos - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)282829292928262526272928
Temp (°F)828284848482797779818482

In the southeast, the rainiest region, the decrease in rainfall in July and August doesn't occur: in Calabar, where 3,000 mm (120 in) of rain fall per year, rainfall remains around 400 mm (16 in) per month from June to September. In the south-east of Nigeria, the Cross River National Park is a hilly area, wet and covered with forests.

Best Time

The best time to visit Nigeria is winter, from November to February, and in particular, the months of January and February, which are the driest and sunniest of the year. It is true that it can get hot during the day almost everywhere, and especially in the center and north, while it can even get cold at night in the far north, and sometimes the Harmattan can bring sand and dust storms, but at least, you avoid the scorching heat of the period from February to May as well as the summer rains. Already in November, you can find this kind of hot and dry weather, except in the south-east (see Calabar), where it still rains. The weather in February is similar as well, but very hot days start to be more frequent in inland areas, at some distance from the sea.

What to pack

In winter: in the north, Jos and Abuja, bring light clothes for the day, long and made of natural fibers (cotton or linen), a desert turban for the wind-borne sand and dust, a jacket and a sweater for the evening, and comfortable and breathable shoes. In the south and in Lagos, bring light clothing, a light sweater for the evening and for air conditioned places, and a light scarf for the wind full of dust.
In summer: bring lightweight clothing of natural fabrics (cotton or linen), a light raincoat or umbrella for the rain. In Jos, you can add a sweatshirt and a light jacket. It's better for women to avoid shorts and miniskirts, especially in the north.

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