Index


Introduction



In Sierra Leone, the climate is tropical, hot all year round, with a dry season in winter and a rainy season due to the African monsoon, which runs from May to November in the north and from April to November in the south. Annual rainfall is considerable, from 2,000 to 3,000 millimeters (80 to 120 inches), with a maximum in the coastal area.
The western part of the country is flat, while the eastern part is covered with hills and mountains; the highest peak is Mount Bintumani, 1,945 meters (6,381 feet) high. The altitude tempers the heat, especially above a thousand meters (3,300 feet).

Winter in Sierra Leone is hot and sunny: night-time temperatures are around 22/24 °C (72/75 °F) along the coast and 18/20 °C (64/68 °F) in the interior, while daytime temperatures are around 30 °C (86 °F) on the coast and 32/34 °C (90/93 °F) in the interior. Sometimes, it can get uncomfortably hot: the temperature can reach 38/40 °C (100/104 °F) even in winter, but luckily, the air is quite dry because of the prevailing wind, the Harmattan. This wind blows from the Sahara and lowers the humidity, especially in inland areas, and less frequently along the coast. On the contrary, during the night, the temperature can get a little cool, especially in inland areas, where it can drop to around 10 °C (50 °F), while in the mountains, it can even get cold.
Starting from February, the temperature rises, under the influence of the tropical sun, but then the rains come quite soon. The first showers occur in March in the south: in Daru, already 90 millimeters (3.5 inches) of rain fall, and only 15 mm (0.6 in) in Freetown, in the center. Rainfall increases gradually, reaching a peak from June to September, when it exceeds 250 mm (10 in) per month also in inland areas, while on the coast, the rains are more violent, and become torrential, especially in July and August: in Freetown, up to 800 mm (31.5 in) of rain fall in August, as happens in an moderately rainy city in an entire year. The coast south of Freetown, flat and covered with mangroves, is often flooded in this period.
Even the amount of sunshine in the summer months becomes very poor, since the rains occur almost daily. In the rainy season, the temperature often remains below 30 °C (86 °F) during the day, while it remains high at night, and the humidity makes the air quite sultry, even though, along the coast, the heat is tempered by the breeze.
During the month of November, the monsoon withdraws, the rains cease and the dry wind from the north-east starts to blow again.

Freetown

Freetown

Here are the average temperatures in the capital, Freetown, located on the coast.
Freetown - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)242424252424232323232424
Max (°C)303031313130292829303030
Min (°F)757575777575737373737575
Max (°F)868688888886848284868686

Here is the average precipitation in Freetown.
Freetown - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)34154517532573579048526590152945
Prec.(in)0.10.20.61.86.912.828.931.119.110.43.50.6115.9
Days001415222727242192152

The sun in Freetown often shines from November to April, while in the rainy season, the sky is often cloudy, especially in the wettest period, from July to September. In inland areas, the sun shines a little more often. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in Freetown.
Freetown - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours888765324677

The sea in Sierra Leone is warm enough to swim in all year round, as we can see in the following table.
Freetown - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)272726272828282727282928
Temp (°F)818179818282828181828482

Best Time



The best time to visit Sierra Leone is winter, in December and January in inland areas (because in February, it starts to get hot) and from December to March along the coast, where the temperature is more stable. The worst months are those of summer, from July to September, when the rains, often torrential, create extensive flooding.

What to pack



In winter: in Freetown and on the coast, bring light clothes, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and a scarf for the wind-borne sand and dust. In inland areas, it may be useful to bring a sweatshirt and a jacket for the evening.
In summer: bring tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for the long and heavy downpours, and possibly an umbrella (which, however, is not really effective during the most intense rains). In inland areas and in the mountains, you can add a heavier sweatshirt for wet and rainy days.

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