Egypt’s climate is generally classified as desert. It is an extension of the great Sahara desert that encircles North Africa, and except for the narrow strip of irrigated land along the Nile, very little could survive there. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, remarked: “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.
Note that sandstorms can occur from March to May, especially during the day. These storms not only make the air sandy and very dry, but they also temporarily increase the temperature. Sandstorms can always occur at other times of the year, but rarely, and in winter they do not usually increase the temperature.
Summers are usually hot, rainless and extremely sunny, but the air can be humid on the coast and very dry in the south, off the coast and away from the Nile Delta. Winters are temperate. The months of November to March are certainly the most pleasant months to travel to Egypt. Only the northern coast (from the sea 50 km south) receives some rain in winter; the rest of Egypt receives little or no rain at all. So you don’t need rain gear!
Thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rains, often lasting several hours, are not uncommon in Alexandria, Marsa Matruh, and all other northern coastal areas, and even in the delta. In some years, showers can last a full day or more, although the rain tends to be lighter. Hail is not uncommon either, especially in the desert where the weather is generally colder and light hail and even frost can occur on non-rainy days.
In the Sinai Mountains, and also in the Red Sea Mountains that stretch along the Red Sea coast on the eastern side of the country, there is generally more rain than in the surrounding desert, as rain clouds tend to form when warm air evaporates and rises as it moves over higher ground. Flooding is a common weather phenomenon in these areas because a lot of rain can fall in a very short time (often a day or two), not counting thunder and lightning. Because of the desert and the lack of lush vegetation, rainwater falls rapidly on hills and mountains, flooding local areas. In fact, every year local newspapers report flash floods in the Sinai and Upper Egypt (southern Egypt) regions, such as in Assiut, Luxor, Aswan, Sohag, and so on. However, these floods usually occur only two or three times a year, or not at all in some years. When they do occur, however, it is often at the beginning of the season, in September or October, or at the end of winter, in February. Because of this risk, caution should be exercised when venturing into the desert or camping in certain areas, as water can suddenly drain from nearby mountains and hills. It can sometimes carry a fairly strong current that is known to cause the houses of rural people who have built their homes of mud, brick, and other fragile materials to collapse. The poor risk drowning in the flood waters, which is strange for a desert country that does not receive much rainfall.
In addition, at higher altitudes, such as on the peaks of the Sinai Mountains, temperatures can drop much more than in the surrounding areas. For example, snowfall can occur during the winter months, as temperatures can drop below freezing, as well as frost even in low-lying desert areas, where temperatures are usually a few degrees colder than in the cities.
The coldest time of the year is during December, January and February. However, the winter days in the southern parts of the Nile Valley are warmer, but their nights are as cool as those in the northern places.
Visitors should be aware that most houses and apartments in Egypt do not have central heating as in countries with a colder climate, as the main concern of the weather in Egypt is heat. Therefore, although the weather is not so cold for a western traveler, it may be colder inside the house during the day, but the temperature is more stable inside than outside. In Cairo, indoor temperatures without air conditioning are about 15°C on the coldest winter days and about 34°C on the hottest summer days.
Remarkable climatic characteristics :
- Alexandria and Rafah are the wettest places.
- Assiut is the driest city
- Aswan as well as Luxor are destinations that experience the hottest days of summer.
- St. Catherine’s (South Sinai mountain region) has the coldest nights and harshest winters.
Cities or seaside resorts where the summer days are the coolest :
- Marsa Matruh
- Port Said
Places where temperature fluctuations are the smallest:
- Port Said
- Ras El Bar (a coastal town near Damietta)
- Baltim (on the north coast in the middle)
- Damietta (at the eastern end of the Nile basin on the north coast)
Cities or seaside resorts where winter nights are the warmest :
- Marsa Alam
- Sharm el Sheikh
Cities with the greatest temperature fluctuations between day and night :
- Minya (in the center of the Nile Valley)
- Sohag (south of the Nile valley)
- Qena (south of the Nile valley)