I’m sure you’ve always or once wondered if it snows in African countries, especially when you live in a country like Nigeria where harmattan is the coldest season, and the rainy season does not go beyond ice pour.
Well, it’s a good thing you clicked on this article because you will unleash your doubts about whether it snows in Africa in this few minutes read.
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Does it Snow in Africa?
Yes, it does snow in Africa. Africa is diversified, large, and also the hottest continent. It is usually characterised by dryland and deserts and doesn’t get so cold to the extent of snowfall. However, a few African countries, especially in the north, experience snow year-in-year-out. These countries experience low temperatures, more precipitation, and high elevation resulting in snowfall.
Clouds gather around the peaks of higher mountains as warm, moist air rises. Many mountains in Africa can be covered in snow all year round since snowfall is more likely to occur at high cliffs. These locations, especially those farther from the equator, experience cooler temperatures in some specific months.
Why Doesn’t it Snow in Africa?
You might wonder what makes Africa different from other continents since most of its countries do not snow. The average temperature for the coldest countries in Africa is 16-18°C, whereas, before a country can experience snow, the weather needs to be 0°C or less.
Africa’s weather is as complex as understanding the continent itself. Each country and region has its factor that influences the weather. Most of the continent stretching from 35°S to 37°N latitude is located in the tropics.
Due to the intense and frequent heat along the cancer tropics, Africa has a hot climate in most regions. However, in the north and some parts of southern Africa, they experience cooler weather that results in snow.
The equator almost splits the continent in half, making large symmetrical climate zones on either side. In Southern Africa, the band of high pressure over land lessens when the sun is at its highest, while in the center of northern Africa, a quasi-permanent subtropical high-pressure cell forms causing extremely hot temperatures.
Is There a Winter Season in Africa?
In most African countries, the main seasons are the dry season, categorised as windy or harmattan, and the rainy season. The rainy season is sometimes conjoined with the heat season because the former occurs before the latter or during.
Nevertheless, other African countries still have winter in their climate seasons. Winter occurs in South nations in Africa from around June through August. The night and morning temperatures in Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe can drop very low and result in snow.
In northern Africa also, some countries, such as Morocco and Algeria, experience snow towards the end of the year.
Read also: Top 10 Richest countries in Africa in 2023.
10 Africa Countries Where Snow Falls
Here is a list of 10 African countries that experience snow:
Not all regions in south Africa experiences snow due to their diverse environment, but regions like Drakensberg and Cape have an extremely low temperature that results in snow. Cold regions experience a median high of 12.3℃ to as low as 4.7℃. The temperature can flop to 4℃ the following month with an average of 6 millimeters of snow.
The Western Cape and Northern Cape experience the most snow, with at least five snow days annually, reaching up to 30 millimetres. June marks the start of winter in the parts where it snows, and August usually marks the end of it.
Tunisia’s climate varies in different geography and terrain throughout the year. The southern and northern regions of the country experience different weather, such that the latter experience more extreme temperatures reaching up to 40°C and winter temperatures dropping as low as 5°C while the latter experience mild weather conditions.
Whereas in the north, during summer, the temperature increases to 30°C. Tunisia’s climate is usually classified as semi-arid or arid and is known to experience little rainfall from June to September. Part of the reason why the country’s climate is diverse is that, the country is bordered between the Sahara desert and the mediterranean sea.
Snow in Tunisia
Snow falls in Tunisia during winter, from December to February, when the central and northern areas of the country are covered with a blanket of white. During this time, the mountain tops are snow-capped, which creates a breathtaking view.
In December, there is higher precipitation and a chill temperature than in other months, with an average temperature between 10°C and 18°C. During the day, temperatures may reach 25°C, but at night, they can drop to as low as 5°C. The country’s northern regions tend to experience cooler temperatures than the rest of Tunisia.
Although snowfall is also rare in Tunisia, some light snow falls on its highest mountain peaks during the winter months in regions such as; the alpine regions around Jebel Zaghouan, Jebel ECH Chambi – the highest peak and that which receives more snow, and other neighbouring mountains.
Read also: Top 20 Tourist Countries in Africa
Algeria is located in Northern Africa and stretches from the north, where the Mediterranean Sea is, to the South, where the Sahara Desert is. There are 44 million people in Algeria occupying the northern province as the Sahara Desert monopolizes the South. Its elevation ranges between 3600 feet (1,100 meters) and 4,300 feet (1,300 meters), occupying an area of 2,381,741 square kilometers.
Algeria has an extensive landmass and experiences three types of climate: the continental climate experienced by the highlands and rocky province, the Mediterranean climate in coastal areas where the weather is favourable, and the desert climate in the Sahara Desert.
When does it snow in Algeria?
From December, winter starts with a cool temperature. Setif records an average temperature ranging from lows of 38.7°C to 11.5°C.
In January, winter progresses, and the temperature continues to drop. Places like Setif experience average low temperatures of 2.4 °C and experience snow for 6.8 days. The collection depth of snow is 128 millimetres (5.04 inches)
In February, in Setif, temperatures dropped further to average lows of 2.2°C. Setif sees the most snowfall in February, with an accumulation of 5.79 inches (147 millimetres) of snow.
Where does it snow in Algeria?
Setif and Batna are the two main regions that experience snow in northern Algeria during winter. Setif is the eastern part of Algeria with a height of 1,100 metres (3608 feet) above sea level. Setif sees 21.7 snowfall days per year and gathers about 15.87 inches (403 millimetres) of snow.
Batna, also a city in northern Algeria, experiences snow for 14.7 days throughout the year and accumulates up to 6.54 inches (166 millimeters) of snow.
Lesotho is also one of the special countries in Africa that experiences snow. The country’s climate is frigid because its lowest point is 1400 metres above sea level, and its highest point is 3,482 metres above sea level. Maseru, the capital city, experiences snow year round, which can accumulate to about 13 millimetres.
Winter in Lesotho is the coldest time of the year, starting from June to August. During this time, the temperature flops, and the highlands experience snowfall. Amid winter, lows can reach 0 °C, and highs can reach 16/19 °C.
Morocco is an African country that also experiences snow. It is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and is in the closest proximity to Spain, a European country. The nation also has diverse temperatures – highlands, semi-arid, Mediterranean, and sub-mediterranean zones can all be found here.
The temperature in the Mediterranean zone ranges from 29°C to 32°C, in the sub-Mediterranean from 27°C to 40°C, in the continental from 32°C to 360°C, and Alpine has a high temperature of 30°C.
During winter, from December to February, the temperature differs by zone and can be as low as -5° C or as high as -8°C. It regularly snows at this time of year in various country sections, particularly in the north and central zones.
Kenya (Mount Kenya)
Mount Kenya receives a lot of snow and rain from March to December. The mountain’s high elevation is why it’s really cold. When it’s not snowing or raining, the mountain is usually windy.
Tanzania (Mount Kilimanjaro)
Tanzania doesn’t experience snowfall except for one part; Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest mountain in Africa. This results in the equatorial trade winds and high-altitude anti-trades influencing the temperature of the mountain, thus, making it cooler than the rest of Africa.
The temperature declines to -15°c and -29°c on the peak. It may also reach temperatures of 21°C to 27°C and does not have a specific time it snows. But it is more common in the first week of December, and occurs throughout June, July, August, and September. Different sides of the mountain experience the same weather in diverse ways. For instance, the southern hemisphere receives more rainfall than the northern.
Uganda (Rwenzori mountains)
The temperature of Rwenzori Mountain, located on Uganda’s border, ranges from 20°C to -5°C and below, which produces glaciers, snow, and ice and receives frequent rainfall. Also, the climate on the mountain is similarly alpine.
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Ethiopia (Simien mountains)
You may be amazed that Ethiopia is on this list. Well, snow falls in some regions of Ethiopia. The mountains in the north receive a few feet of snow yearly. You might underrate the portion, but it’s quite impressive, given that Ethiopia is located near the equator!
The country has several high mountains that receive a dusting of snowfall yearly, including Ras Dashen, which reaches an elevation of 4,550 m in the Simien Mountains National Park in the Amhara Region in North Gondar.
Namibia is also an African country that experiences snowfall. Although it is occasional and in little quantity, it creates an aura of chillness for exploration whenever it does. The two seasons in Namibia include; the cool, dry season, which lasts for a long and the hot, wet season, which lasts for a short period. This period does not produce snow because of its warmness.
Does it Ever Snow During Christmas in Africa?
Of course, you will find regions where snow falls during Christmas in Africa. Only it will be at a specific point, like Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro, because snow covers the tip of these mountains year-round.
Other regions in Africa where it snows during Christmas are the Northern parts like Morocco and Algeria. Although this is a rare occurrence, it does happen.
One time in Algeria, a place popularly referred to as the “gateway to the desert,” had snowfall in February 1979 and December 19, 2016. The town, which has a population of about 35,000, is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the northern Sahara.
Winter does exist in Africa, only that it’s not in all parts. Snow falls, but a snow shovel isn’t that essential because the snow usually comes for a short stay. However, it’s possible to snowboard and mould a snowball to hit your favourite person. Also, you will need a sweater and boots to shake off the cold while it lasts.
Africa is indeed a remarkable continent to visit. And during winter, even more awe-stricken. Since its season for snow and system is different from Europe, seeing its view will give you a different vibe.
Oluwanifemi Akintomide edited this piece.
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