Ethiopia's climate is generally mild, in which the average temperature in the highland areas including most of the major cities like Addis Ababa is below 20°C (68°F) and exceeding 30°C (85°F) in lowlands like the Dallol (Danakil) Depression.
Ethiopia generally has a tropical climate. One of the influences of Ethiopia's climate and weather is the seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which affects the rainfall patterns in Ethiopia, east Africa.
Climatic Zones of Ethiopia
In effect to the ITCZ, Ethiopia is classified into three climatic zones (rainfall regimes) which have two, three and four seasons in a year.
Two Seasons Zone
This zone includes the western half of Ethiopia and has two distinct seasons with a rainy season (June - September) and a dry season (November - February).
Three Seasons Zone
This area consists of the central (including Addis Ababa) and most of the eastern part of Ethiopia with two rainy seasons known as Kiremt (June - September), the main rainy season, and Belg (February - May), delivering small rains and one dry season called Bega (October - January).
Four Seasons Zone
This comprises of the south and southeastern part of Ethiopia with two rainy seasons (very rainy-March - June and small rains-September - November) and two distinct dry seasons (July - August and December - February).
Seasons in Ethiopia
According to the Ethiopian National Meteorological Services Agency (NMSA) Ethiopia has three seasons based on the average trends of the weather and rainfall.
Kiremt (Summer): mid-June, July, August, mid-September are the months in the Kiremt season. Long and heavy rainfall occurs during these months.
Bega (Winter): October, November, December and January are the Bega season. This is the dry season.
Belg: February, March, April, May are the months in the Belg season. Short and moderate rainfall occurs during these months.
Microclimatic Zones of Ethiopia
In addition to the ITCZ another one of the influences of Ethiopia's climate and weather is altitude (as altitude increases temperature decreases) which creates rainfall variation within Ethiopia causing different microclimates. The four microclimatic zones of Ethiopia are the Kola, Weina-Dega, Dega and Bereha.
This covers the desert lowland areas in the peripheral parts of Ethiopia which is occupied by nomads. These areas are located at an elevation below 500 meters (about 1640 feet) and with average annual temperature exceeding 28°C (82°F).
This consists of lowland areas with elevation of 500-1500 metres (about 1640-4920 feet). This is a hot zone with annual average temperature of 20-28°C (68-82°F) and annual rainfall of about 500 millimetres. This area consists of the Danakil Depression (about 125 metres below sea level and with average temperature of about 34°C or about 93°F), the valleys of the Blue Nile (Abay in Amharic) and the Tekezé rivers.
This includes highland areas where the elevation is 1500-2440 metres (about 4920-8000 feet). This is a temperate zone with annual average temperature of 16-20°C (61-68°F) and annual rainfall of about 500-1520 millimetres. Most of Ethiopia's major cities including Addis Ababa, Gondar and Axum are located at elevetions of about 2000-2400 metres (about 6560-8200 feet) above sea level.
This constitutes of areas where the elevation is above 2440 metres. This is a cool zone with annual average temperature of 11-16°C (52-61°F) and annual rainfall of about 1270-1280 millimetres. This area consists of the central parts of the western and eastern sections of the northwestern mountainous area and a small portion of the area around Harar.
Best Time to Visit Ethiopia or When to Go
The best time to visit Ethiopia would perhaps be during the dry season. Generally the heaviest rains occur from mid-June to mid-September and the rest of the year is dry with some months of small rain. But, the climate varies across the different parts of Ethiopia, so read the following topics in this article to understand the specific conditions that pertain to a certain region. The best time to visit the Dallol (Danakil) Depression is probably from November up to February, which is relatively cooler than the rest of the months that experience highly hot temperatures.
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