Weatherwatch: Madagascar’s varied island climate
Madagascar, Africa’s largest island and the fourth largest in the world, has a very varied climate. Although the island is far longer, from north to south, than it is broad, the biggest differences are between the east and west of the country.
For most of the year, eastern Madagascar is exposed to oceanic trade winds, which bring plenty of moisture, with low cloud from November to February. The port city of Toamasina is wet all year, with up to 450mm (18in) of rain a month, especially in summer and early autumn. Despite this, sunshine hours range from six to eight hours a day all year.
The capital, Antananarivo, also experiences heavy rain during the summer months, with up to 870mm. But for most of the rest of the year it is very dry. The winter months, from June to August, produce hardly any rain – barely more than 25mm (1in). Temperatures are fairly constant, with daily maxima of 26C (78.8F) to 27C in the summer and 20C (68F) to 21C in the winter. At an altitude of 1,370 metres (4,500ft), Antananarivo is also slightly cooler than coastal areas. Rainfall is generally lower in the west and on the higher plateau in the centre of the island.
Like many Indian Ocean locations, Madagascar is in the path of tropical cyclones, which usually occur from December through to March.