When most of us think of Morocco, we imagine camel trains making their way through bone-dry sand dunes in the middle of the Sahara Desert. While it's true that scenes like these can be found in the east of the country near Merzouga, the truth is that in general, Morocco's climate is tropical rather than arid. When one considers that the northernmost tip of the country is only 14.5 kilometers/ 9 miles from Spain, it comes as no surprise that the weather in many areas is essentially Mediterranean.
Universal Truths About Moroccan Weather
As in any country, there is no hard and fast rule about weather. Temperatures and precipitation levels vary greatly depending on region and altitude. However, there are some universal truths - starting with the fact that Morocco follows the same seasonal pattern as any other northern hemisphere country. Winter lasts from November to January, and sees the coldest, wettest weather of the year. Summer lasts from June to August, and is often scorchingly hot. The shoulder seasons of fall and spring usually offer the best weather, and are generally some of the most pleasant times to travel.
Along the Atlantic coast, the difference between summer and winter is relatively minimal, thanks to cool breezes that temper the summer heat and prevent the winters from becoming too cold. Seasons have a much greater impact in the interior. In the Sahara Desert, summer temperatures often exceed 104ºF/ 40ºC in summer, but may fall to near freezing during winter nights.
In terms of rainfall, the northern part of Morocco is considerably wetter than the arid south (especially along the coast). Located roughly in the middle of the country, the Atlas Mountains have their own climate. Temperatures are consistently cool due to elevation, and in winter, there's enough snow to support sports like skiing and snowboarding.
The Climate in Marrakesh
Located in Morocco's interior lowlands, the imperial city of Marrakesh is one of the country's biggest tourist attractions. It is classified as having a semi-arid climate, which means that it is cool during the winter and hot during the summer. The average temperature for November to January hovers at around 53.6ºF/ 12ºC, while June to August temperatures average around 77ºF/ 25ºC. Winters can also be quite wet, while the summer heat is dry rather than humid. The best time to visit is in spring or fall, when you can expect abundant sunshine and cool, pleasant evenings.
|Month||Av. Precipitation||Mean Temp.||Mean. Sunshine Hours|
|January||32.2mm/ 1.26 in||54.0ºF/ 12.2ºC||220.6|
|February||37.9mm/ 1.49 in||56.8ºF/ 13.8ºC||209.4|
|March||37.8mm/ 1.48 in||60.4ºF/ 15.8ºC||247.5|
|April||38.8mm/ 1.52 in||63.1ºF/ 17.3ºC||254.5|
|May||23.7mm/ 0.93 in||69.1ºF/ 20.6ºC||287.2|
|June||4.5mm/ 0.17 in||74.8ºF/ 23.8ºC||314.5|
|July||1.2mm/ 0.04 in||82.9ºF/ 28.3ºC||335.2|
|August||3.4mm/ 0.13 in||82.9ºF/ 28.3ºC||316.2|
|September||5.9mm/ 0.23 in||77.5ºF/ 25.3ºC||263.6|
|October||23.9mm/ 0.94 in||70.0ºF/ 21.1ºC||245.3|
|November||40.6mm/ 1.59 in||61.3ºF/ 16.3ºC||214.1|
|December||31.4mm/ 1.23 in||54.7ºF/ 12.6ºC||220.6|
The Climate in Rabat
Located towards the northern end of Morocco's Atlantic coastline, Rabat's weather is indicative of the weather in other coastal cities, including Casablanca.
The climate here is Mediterranean, and therefore similar to what one might expect from Spain or southern France. Winters can be wet, and are usually cool with average temperatures of around 57.2ºF/ 14ºC. Summers are warm, sunny and dry. The humidity level at the coast is higher than it is inland, but the discomfort usually associated with humidity is tempered by cooling ocean breezes.
|Month||Av. Precipitation||Mean Temp.||Mean. Sunshine Hours|
|January||77.2mm/ 3.03 in||54.7ºF/ 12.6ºC||179.9|
|February||74.1mm/ 2.91 in||55.6ºF/ 13.1ºC||182.3|
|March||60.9mm/ 2.39 in||57.6ºF/ 14.2ºC||232.0|
|April||62.0mm/ 2.44 in||59.4ºF/ 15.2ºC||254.5|
|May||25.3mm/ 0.99 in||63.3ºF/ 17.4ºC||290.0|
|June||6.7mm/ 0.26 in||67.6ºF/ 19.8ºC||287.6|
|July||0.5mm/ 0.02 in||72.0ºF/ 22.2ºC||314.7|
|August||1.3mm/ 0.05 in||72.3ºF/ 22.4ºC||307.0|
|September||5.7mm/ 0.22 in||70.7ºF/ 21.5ºC||261.1|
|October||43.6mm/ 1.71 in||66.2ºF/ 19.0ºC||235.1|
|November||96.7mm/ 3.80 in||60.6ºF/ 15.9ºC||190.5|
|December||100.9mm/ 3.97 in||55.8ºF/ 13.2ºC||180.9|
The Climate in Fez
Located towards the north of the country in the Middle Atlas region, Fez has a mild, sunny Mediterranean climate. Winter and spring are often wet, with the greatest amount of rain falling between November and January. On the plus side, winters are rarely freezing with average temperatures of around 57.2ºF/ 14.0ºC. From June to August, the weather is typically hot, dry and sunny - making this the best time of year to visit Morocco's oldest imperial city. Summer temperatures average around 86ºF/ 30.0ºC.
|Month||Av. Precipitation||Av. Temp.||Mean. Sunshine Hours|
|January||84.6mm/ 3.33 in||59.0ºF/ 15.0ºC||86.3|
|February||81.1mm/ 3.19 in||55.4ºF/ 13.0ºC||82.5|
|March||71.3mm/ 2.80 in||57.2ºF/ 14.0ºC||106|
|April||46.0mm/ 1.81 in||64.4ºF/ 18.0ºC||133.5|
|May||24.1mm/ 0.94 in||73.4ºF/ 23.0ºC||132|
|June||6.4mm/ 0.25 in||84.2ºF/ 29.0ºC||145.5|
|July||1.2mm/ 0.04 in||91.4ºF/ 33.0ºC||150.5|
|August||1.9mm/ 0.07 in||93.2ºF/ 34.0ºC||151.8|
|September||17.7mm/ 0.69 in||82.4ºF/ 28.0ºC||123.5|
|October||41.5mm/ 1.63 in||77.0ºF/ 25.0ºC||95.8|
|November||90.5mm/ 3.56 in||60.8ºF/ 16.0ºC||82.5|
|December||82.2mm/ 3.23 in||55.4ºF/ 13.0ºC||77.8|
The Atlas Mountains
The weather in the Atlas Mountains is unpredictable, and depends heavily on the elevation that you plan on traveling to. In the High Atlas region, summers are cool but sunny, with temperatures averaging around 77ºF/ 25ºC during the daytime. In winter, temperatures frequently plummet below freezing, sometimes falling as low as -4ºF/ -20ºC. Snowfall is common - making this the only time to travel if you want to go skiing. Like Fez, the rest of the Middle Atlas region is characterized by abundant rainfall in winter and warm, sunny summers.
The Sahara Desert is scorching in summer, with daytime temperatures averaging around 115ºF/ 45ºC. At night, temperatures fall dramatically - and in winter they can be positively freezing. The best time to book a desert tour is during the spring and fall months, when the weather is neither too hot or too cold. Be aware though that March and April often coincide with the Sirocco wind, which can cause dusty, dry conditions, poor visibility and sudden sandstorms.
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on July 12th 2017.