Climate of Libya

The climate over most of the country is that of the hot, arid Sahara, but it is moderated along the coastal littoral by the Mediterranean Sea. The Saharan influence is stronger in summer. Dominant climate influences Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert.

In coastal lowlands, where 80 percent of population lives, climate Mediterranean, with warm summers and mild winters. Climate in desert interior characterized by very hot summers and extreme diurnal temperature ranges. Precipitation ranges from light to negligible; less than 2 percent of country receives enough rainfall for settled agriculture.

From October to March, prevailing westerly winds bring cyclonic storms and rains across northern Libya. A narrow band of semiarid steppe extends inland from the Mediterranean climate of the Al-Jifarah Plain, the Nafusah Plateau, and the Akhdar Mountains.

The desert climate of the Sahara reaches the coast in the Surt Desert along the southern fringes of the Gulf of Sidra. Periodic droughts, often lasting several years, are common in the steppe and desert climates.

Mediterranean climate is characterized by a cool rainy winter season and a hot dry summer. The warmest months are July and August, when Banghazi and Tripoli, in the Mediterranean zone, experience average monthly temperatures of 72° to 85° F (22° to 29° C) and 62° to 86° F (17° to 30° C), respectively.

The coolest months are January and February; Banghazi has winter monthly temperatures of 50° to 63° F (10° to 17° C), and Tripoli has 47° to 61° F (8° to 16° C). Al-'Aziziyah on the Al-Jifarah Plain has recorded the world's highest shade temperature, about 136° F (58° C). Banghazi receives an annual average rainfall of 10 inches (250 millimetres), and Tripoli receives 15 inches.

The amount of annual precipitation declines, and its variability increases, inland from the coast. Most of the rainfall occurs in only a few days between November and January. Steppe climate has less than four inches of rainfall annually, and Saharan desert climate has less than one inch. In the Sahara, 200 consecutive rainless days in a year have been recorded in many areas, and the world's highest degree of aridity occurs at Sabha, which averages only 0.4 inch of rainfall annually.

The dry climate is exacerbated by the ghibli, a hot, arid wind that blows from the south several times a year, affecting the entire country. It is preceded by a short lull in the prevailing winds, which is followed by the full force of the ghibli. The wind carries large quantities of sand dust, which turns the sky red and reduces visibility to less than 60 feet. The heat of the wind is increased by a rapid drop of relative humidity, which can fall from 80 to 10 percent within hours.

Last Updated on Monday 4th August 2008