Egypt: Weather Overview
Egypt, home of the Pharaohs, the pyramids and the great Nile Delta, sits at the top of Africa. It shares borders with Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, Israel and the Gaza Strip to the east. The country is over 386,000 square miles and home to 80million people, making it one of Africa's most populous. Egypt has a Mediterranean coastline to the north and on the east borders the Red Sea which is a popular scuba diving destination. Most of the country is desert, part of the vast Sahara that dominates North Africa. As a result, most of the population resides in the coastal regions and in the fertile Nile valley.
With vast deserts, mountains over 2500m and long coastlines, Egypt experiences many different types of weather from arid heat to snow.
The months of June, July and August are generally the hottest and December to January is classed as winter, though it's never cold in the sense that we are used to in most of Europe. The country experiences very low rainfall with any rain sticking to the winter months.
Wonderful beaches, Egypt.
Nile Valley and Delta
Despite making up only 5.5% of Egypt's land mass, this massive oasis is home to 99% of the country's population. It provides the only non-desert region of the country and the only land fertile enough to support agriculture. Cairo sits where the mighty Nile fans into its enormous Delta where the waters split into hundreds of rivulets to make the final length of their long journey to the Mediterranean Sea.
Cairo's climate is basically hot and dry. You can find a detailed description of the city's climate here and weather averages here. Average temperatures range from 14°C in January to 28°C in July and August. October to May is the best time to visit as it is coolest. During the summer months, it can get very hot – into the high 30s and beyond. The coldest it gets is around 8°C or 9°C at night time during the winter months. In winter daytime highs are mild at around 20°C, much more pleasant for sightseeing.
Famous Egyptian pyramids in Giza.
Rainfall is extremely low – around 30mm per year – and occurs between November and March. December and January are the most precipitous months, but with an average of around 7mm, you can hardly call them wet. Cairo's desert climate is seen across the Nile Valley and Delta, and popular destinations such as Luxor and Aswan experience similar weather.
This refers to the majority of the country which makes up part of the Sahara. You have the western desert, to the west of the Nile that makes up about two-thirds of the country and then the eastern desert on the other side of the Nile.
The vast desert has an extremely harsh climate and is inhospitable to life except around the few oases. Temperatures are searing hot in summer, sometimes up to 50°C. Winters, however, can see quite cool temperatures in the low teens, dropping much lower at night, especially in the higher elevations of the Jilf al Kabir Plateau in the west. It often gets below freezing at night and snow has been known to fall. Rainfall is very low as you would imagine but occasionally there can be heavy downpours that arrive after several years with next to no rainfall. The eastern desert receives more rainfall than the west due to its proximity to the coast. Rain is most likely in winter.
Sandstorms are one of the many perils of the desert when strong winds whip up thick tall clouds of sand. These sands can travel as high as 6km into the air and frequently deposit sand in Europe. One of the responsible winds is the hot, dry Khamaseen that blows from the south in Egypt during the spring. This wind frequently causes unpleasant sand clouds across Egypt.
Egyptian Pyramid's in the sunset.
The Sinai Peninsula
The small strip of land joins the African continent to the Middle East and is where Egypt shares its border with Israel. The northern third of the peninsula is flat but further south it is mountainous with the tallest peak, Mount Catherine (Jabal Katrinah), standing at 2642m.
The popular resort of Sharm el-Sheikh lies on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea. It is a fantastic scuba diving destination and popular for its guaranteed sunshine. For an overview of Sharm el-Sheikh's weather look here, and for rainfall and temperature averages here. The climate is basically hot and dry. Summer is very hot with temperatures up to 40°C, but winters are much cooler averaging a pleasant 18°C with lows of 13°C and highs of 22°C. Rainfall is very low, though most likely in late winter or early spring. Heavy downpours, though infrequent, can happen and have been known to cause flash floods as the rain doesn't soak into the hard ground.
These conditions are typical of the Sinai Peninsula. Taba, Dahab and Suez both experience a similar climate. The place that does get a different climate, however, are the highlands in the south. St. Catherine sees much cooler temperatures – winter lows can get down to 1°C or 2°C. Summer still regularly sees temperatures over 30°C, so there is much more variation between the seasons. Snow can fall on the highest peaks in Sinai during winter.
Camel riding on the beach in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
Egypt has a northern coastline on the Mediterranean and a coast in the east on the Red Sea. The north coast experiences hot summer temperatures and very mild winters. Average temperatures in Alexandria are between 27°C in summer and 14°C in winter. The coolest it gets is around 8°C and the hottest temperatures can be in the high 30s. The cooling breezes that come off the Mediterranean make it more comfortable, with generally cooler temperatures than the east coast. If the Khamaseen wind is blowing up from the Sahara, however, it can be quite uncomfortable. These conditions are typical of the north coast, though some towns can experience colder winter temperatures. Snowfall is occasionally seen in places along the coast and, very rarely, in Alexandria. Across the north coast, rainfall is low, though a little higher than in inland Egypt, and is predominantly confined to between October and March.
The east coast and southern Sinai coast are famed for their great weather and world-class diving spots. The climate of Sharm el-Sheikh is typical of the east coast weather; very hot and dry summers and mild winters. Temperatures generally range between 14°C and 38°C across the year with the hottest months July and August averaging in the low 30s, and the coolest, January, at 18°C. Rainfall is very low and occurs mostly in winters. Sun is guaranteed year-round but the optimum time to visit is spring and autumn when temperatures are at their best. El Gouna, Hurghada and Marsa Alam are three other very popular resorts based on Egypt's east coast.
The sandy banks of the Southern coast of Egypt.