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Climate Back to the Table of Contents

The outstanding characteristics of the climate are sustained heat and rainfall heavier than that in most regions of West Africa. Because Liberia lies well south of the Tropic of Cancer, days vary little in length, and solar radiation is relatively intense and uniform. The alternating north to south movements of continental and maritime air masses bring periodic differences in rainfall to distinguish the seasons. The coastal region has the heaviest rainfall, ranging from between 155 and 175 inches annually in the west to nearly 100 inches in the far southeast. Monrovia and its immediate vicinity receive an average of more than 180 inches of rain annually. Generally, precipitation diminishes inland, i.e., toward the north, but rainfall increases again in the highlands of the northernmost portion of Liberia. The driest section of the country is a relatively narrow strip that lies to the south of the eastward flowing portion of the Cavalla River, but even that zone receives an average of 70 inches of rain. Except for a small portion of the country in the southeast, the single rainy season begins in April or May, rises slowly in May or June, reaches a peak in July or (more often) August and September, and tapers off in October (but may continue into November). A few stations along the coast, particularly Monrovia and Buchanan, and their immediate hinterlands receive very heavy precipitation earlier and may then experience a slight reduction in rainfall for several weeks?called the "middle dries"before heavy rain returns in August and September. Farther to the southeast the "middle dries" may be somewhat more marked and last a little longer, but their duration and intensity are not great enough to make the period a true dry season. In the southeasternmost portion of the country, the rainy season begins in April, lasts for two or three months, and is followed by a drier period of two or three months; a second rainy season begins in September and lasts into November. Temperatures are warm throughout the country and vary little from season to season. Mean annual temperatures (Fahrenheit) range from the 70s to the 80s. Generally, mean monthly maxima decline from the low 90s to the mid-80s during the height of the rainy season. Mean monthly minima range from the low 60s in the highlands of the northwest to the low 70s in coastal stations such as Monrovia. Broadly speaking, temperatures inland are warmer than they are along the coast, but the diurnal range at a number of coastal stations is a narrow 10F. Inland, particularly at the higher altitudes, the diurnal range may be 30F or more. Relative humidity is high, averaging 70 to 90 percent?especially along the coast.

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