Index


Introduction



The climate of Senegal is tropical, with a long dry season (which runs roughly from mid-October to mid-June in the north, and from early November to mid-May in the south) and a rainy season (approximately, from late June to early October in the north, and from late May to late October in the south) due to the African monsoon, which in summer arrives from the south; hence, in the south (zone 2 in the map) the annual rainfall is more abundant and is between 600 and 1,500 millimeters (23.5 and 60 inches) per year, while in the north and the center (zone 1), which is part of the Sahel, the rainfall is below 600 mm (23.5 in).

Climatic zones in Senegal

Consequently, the landscape varies considerably, in fact, it is semi-desert in the north, while the south is occupied by the savanna, and also by gallery forests along the rivers.
In the dry season, a dry north-eastern wind, called Harmattan, capable of filling the air with dust from the desert, often blows throughout the country. In the coolest months, December and January, the daytime temperature ranges between 32 °C and 34 °C (90 °F and 93 °F) in inland areas, while it is a bit less hot on the coast, and much cooler in Dakar, around 25 °C (77 °F). Sometimes, it can get a bit cool at night across the country, with temperatures below 15 °C (59 °F), while at other times, it can get very hot during the day, with highs around 35 °C (95 °F) in Dakar and 40 °C (104 °F) in the interior.
By February, the temperature begins to rise, and reaches its highest levels from April to early June, before the arrival of the monsoon. In the interior, highs are normally around 38 °C (100 °F) in the south and 40 °C (104 °F) in the north, while the coast is definitely more temperate, especially in Dakar, where the average maximum is still around 26 °C (79 °F) in May. Heat spikes are noticeable: around 45 °C (113 °F) in inland areas, and up to 47/48 °C (117/118 °F) in the north-east (see Matam).
The rainy season is known as hivernage ("wintering"), but despite the name it's a hot and humid period, especially in the south, while in the north, moist and rainy days alternate with hot and dry days. Roughly from June to October, in the monsoon season, the temperature drops by a few degrees, but at the same time, moisture increases. The rains occur in the form of showers in the north and the center, while they are more persistent in the south, where the sky is often cloudy: in August, the wettest month, there are only 3 hours of sunshine per day in Ziguinchor and as high as 9 hours in Matam.
In the northernmost region of Saint-Louis, where the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is located, and in the cities that rise along the Senegal river, such as Richard-Toll and Podor, precipitation amounts to only 240/350 mm (9.5/13.5 in) per year; in Dakar, in the center, it amounts to 515 mm (20 in) per year, while in the south, it reaches 1,600 mm (63 in). The temperatures are different as well: the monsoon lowers the daytime temperatures to 29/30 °C (84/86 °F) in the south, while in the north, they remain higher, around 35 °C (95 °F).
At the end of the rainy season, between October and November, the temperature increases again, reaching 37/38 °C (99/100 °F) in the center-north; this phenomenon is much less evident in the south. In Dakar, which is a world apart compared with the rest of the country, the trend is very different: the temperature rises gradually until it reaches about 30 °C (86 °F) during the warmest months, which are September and October.

The center-north



Along the northern part of the coast, at least down to the latitude of Dakar, there's a cool sea current which lowers the temperature of the coastal towns by a few degrees, compared with inland areas.

Saint-Louis

In the northern part of the coast, in Saint-Louis, during the day, it is hot all year round, and the temperatures are fairly constant, around 31/32 °C (87/90 °F), except in October and November, when they are a little higher. At night, however, the temperatures vary in a more clear manner: winter nights are cool, while in summer, in the rainy season, hot and muggy weather dominates. However, there can be torrid (very hot and dry) days all year round, when the wind blows from the interior. Here are the average temperatures.
St. Louis - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)151617181922242525242016
Max (°C)303233323030313232343331
Min (°F)596163646672757777756861
Max (°F)869091908686889090939188

In Saint-Louis, 260 mm (10.2 in) of rain fall per year; the only rainy period is from July to early October, when, however, the rains are not particularly frequent nor abundant (but during some years they can be abundant, especially in August and September). Here is the average rainfall.
St. Louis - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)2200074095902501260
Prec.(in)0,10,10000,31,63,73,510010,2
Days11000146610121

The sun in Saint-Louis shines all year round, and it's often seen even in the rainy season. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
St. Louis - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours8891097888888

The sea in Saint-Louis is cool from January to May, while it gets warm enough for swimming from June to December, with a maximum from August to October.
St. Louis - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)202020202124262828282623
Temp (°F)686868687075798282827973

South of Saint-Louis, a short distance from the sea, there is even a small desert with sand dunes, the Lompoul Desert.

Lompoul Desert

Dakar

Dakar, the capital, is located in a particularly mild area because it's on the tip of a peninsula (the Cap-Vert peninsula), overlooking the ocean, and enjoys by far the mildest climate of Senegal. As a matter of fact, sometimes, until April or even May, a very cool wind blows from the sea. Here are the average temperatures.
Dakar - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)181818192124252525252321
Max (°C)252525252629303031313027
Min (°F)646464667075777777777370
Max (°F)777777777984868688888681

In Dakar, 515 mm (20 in) of rain fall per year; the only very rainy months, when rainfall exceeds 150 mm (6 in), are August and September. Here is the average rainfall.
Dakar - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)0000010652351753000515
Prec.(in)000000,42,69,36,91,20020,3
Days000002611940032

The sun in Dakar shines for a good number of hours all year round, though a little less from July to September, ie the rainy season.
Dakar - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours8991098877888

The sea, at the height of Dakar, is definitely cool from January to April, around 20/21 °C (68/70 °F), while it becomes warm from June to November, from 25 °C to 28 °C (77 °F to 82 °F).
Dakar - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)212020212225272828282724
Temp (°F)706868707277818282828175

The coast south of Dakar, called Petite Côte (see Rufisque, Popenguine, Saly, Nianing), is sheltered from the currents and has often a calm sea.

Matam

In the inland areas of the north, the temperatures are much higher. It is often very hot even in winter, though the hottest period is from April to June, before the rains arrive. Since the rainy season here is not very noticeable, the heat is intense even in this period. In Matam, in the north-east, the temperatures can exceed 40 °C (104 °F) all year round, with peaks of 47/48 °C (117/118 °F) in April and May. Here are the average temperatures.
Matam - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)161720232627262525241917
Max (°C)343639414241373536383734
Min (°F)616368737981797777756663
Max (°F)93971021061081069995971009993

In Matam, 570 mm (22 in) of rain fall per year, and more than 100 mm (4 in) fall per month only from July to September. Here is the average rainfall.
Matam - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)20101701402151251500570
Prec.(in)0,100002,85,58,54,90,60022,4
Days000015611710031

The south



In the south, the rainy season is more intense and a little longer, to the point of changing the landscape, which becomes greener, especially during the rainy period. During this period, the temperature decreases more clearly and goes to down to around 30 °C (86 °F); on the other hand, the humidity increases. The most humid region is the one called Casamance, located south of the Gambia.

Cap Skirring

In the southernmost part of the coast, in Cap Skirring, it is hot all year round, and the temperatures are fairly uniform. Here too, however, night temperatures are slightly lower from December to February, while in the rainy season, the weather is hot and humid. In April and May, the temperature tends to decrease a bit, even though it still doesn't rain. Here are the average temperatures.
Cap Skirring - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)191919212325252524252320
Max (°C)333331303032313131333332
Min (°F)666666707377777775777368
Max (°F)919188868690888888919190

In Cap Skirring, 1,400 mm (55 in) of rain fall, with more than 100 mm (4 in) per month from June to October (and a maximum in August), and very rare or absent rains in the rest of the year.
In winter, the sea in Cap Skirring is not as cool as in Dakar, in fact, the water temperature does not drop below 22/23 °C (72/73 °F) from January to April.
Cap Skirring - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)232222232428282828292826
Temp (°F)737272737582828282848279

Ziguinchor

In the south too, the interior is hotter than the coast, especially from February to May, while the summer temperatures decrease more clearly because the rains are more frequent and abundant.
Here are the average temperatures of Ziguinchor.
Ziguinchor - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)161718191921232323232218
Max (°C)323437373533313031323331
Min (°F)616364666670737373737264
Max (°F)909399999591888688909188

In Ziguinchor 1,650 mm (65 in) of rain fall per year, including up to 560 mm (22 in) in August. Here is the average precipitation.
Ziguinchor - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)110111145405560340160811633
Prec.(in)00000,45,715,92213,46,30,3064,3
Days00001920221891080

Both the Niokolo-Koba Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Dindefelo waterfalls, are located in the south-east, ie in the southern, most humid region.

Niokolo-Koba National Park

Tropical cyclones



In the ocean to the west of Senegal, there is an area in which hurricanes, the tropical cyclones of the Atlantic, start to form; after they are formed, they move towards the west or the northwest and head to the Caribbean. In general, Senegal is not affected by hurricanes because they develop at a considerable distance, however, hurricanes can occasionally form a short distance from the coast and affect Senegal as well, producing rainfall, as well as storm surges that can damage the coast, as happened in early September 2015 with Hurricane Fred.
Hurricanes are generally formed in this area in August and September.

Best Time



The best time to visit Senegal is winter, from December to mid-February: it's warm on the coast, even hot in the interior, the sun shines, and it practically never rains. Sometimes, the heat can be intense in inland areas, but humidity is low and nights remain pleasantly cool. Spring is scorchingly hot, and partly autumn (after the rainy season), but at least, it doesn't rain. It's better to avoid the rainy season, at least in the south and from July to September.
A special case is represented by Dakar, which is particularly mild, where the weather is good for a long period, from December to May. However, on the coast, the heat is generally less intense.
For a beach holiday, you can go from November to May, although as previously mentioned, the sea is cool from January to May in the north-central, and (though a little less) from January to April in the south.

What to pack



In winter: bring light clothes for the day, a sweatshirt and a jacket for the evening (until April or May for Dakar), and a scarf or turban for the sand.
In summer: in the north, bring lightweight clothes, long and made of natural fabric (cotton or linen), a turban for the desert wind; in Dakar, you can add a light sweatshirt; in the south, a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for the rain.
It's better for women to avoid shorts and miniskirts outside of the beaches.

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