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Kenya Coast Weather

on Monday, 14 March 2011. Posted in Climate

Rainfall and Temperature patterns on the Kenya Coast

Kenya Coast Weather

The major influence on East African weather is the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This is an area of the atmosphere above the earth’s surface where two air-streams (the North East and South East Trade Winds) converge.

The zone is characterised by warm rising air and the formation of clouds, and is clearly visible as an equatorial band oscillating north and south across the equator as the earth revolves around the sun on it’s annual orbit along the plane of the ecliptic.

The ITCZ’s effect over the climate of East Africa is to intensify the general weather patters for the area - for example if an area expects rainfall - when the ITCZ is overhead - the rainfall will be greater and more intense than a time of year when the ITCZ was not passing over.

As the Kenya Coast lies at equatorial latitudes, the region experiences two distinct rainy seasons which coincide with the periods of the year when the ITCZ is moving over; when the ITCZ is heading south, passing over the coast region in September, and again moving north passing over in March. The Kenyan rainy seasons are known as the Long Rains in April and May, and the Short Rains in October and November.

To explain this phenomenon in further detail; the sun is closest to the earth (the subsolar point) over the Kenya Coast around the end of March, and again around the end of September - these are the equinoxes. The ITCZ follows the subsolar point with a delay of about a month, when it has it’s most intense effect on the climate. So in both April/May and October/November (both about a month after the subsolar point has passed over the Kenya Coast) is when the ITCZ bears most influence and is when the Kenya Coast experiences it’s rainy seasons.
The driest months of the year on the Kenya Coast are January and February.

With regards to air temperatures - the Kenya Coast experiences relatively high temperatures, generally cooling off by 6 to 8 degrees C at night. Temperatures increase throughout the day - reaching around 30 degrees C in the warmer months from January to March. The cooler months are after the Long Rains from July to August, when day time temperatures do not generally exceed much higher than 28 degrees C, and nocturnal temperatures generally stay below 20 degrees C.

Kenya Coast average temperatures

What is the best time of year to visit the Kenya Coast? Below is a weather summary showing general patterns:

Warmest month - March
Coolest month - July
Wettest month - May
Driest month - February
Temperatures are generally between 26 and 32 degrees C
Main rainy seasons are in April/May and October/November
Kaskazi (north easterly wind) - December to mid-March
Kusi (southerly wind) - April to mid-September
Matalai (transitional period) mid-September to mid-November

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