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Rift Safari
Travelling along the Rift Valley: the weather in Pemba

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Pemba weather:
Pemba enjoys a tropical coastal climate strongly influenced by monsoons winds with minimum night temperatures that even in the coldest months never drop below 19° C and maximum daytime temperatures that in the warmest months never climb over 33° C.
Humidity rates tends to be high year round.

These are periodical winds which directly affect seasons and rainfalls.
From April to November the wind [Kuzi] blows from south - southeast parallel to the east coast while from November / December to March it swings from south - southeast to north - northeast always blowing parallel to the east coast [Kaskazi].

The arrival of Kuzi, usually in April, brings an increase of rainfall and for about two months it can rain every day even if in between rains it is often sunny and temperatures are very pleasant. Starting from June this wind begins to become rather strong and until about mid of August it blows at a speed ranging from 11 to 22 knots with some rare days when it can reach 25+ knots. From September it fades more and more and along with October these two are probably the very best months for a beach holiday in Pemba with sunny days [although some scattered rains remain possible on average twice a week] and pleasant temperatures. From June to August if you wish to stay at a facility sheltered from the wind then you should avoid Pemba Lodge and prefere Fundu Lagoon or Manta Resort, both located along the western coast of the island.

The arrival of Kazkazi between November and December brings the short rains which anyway are normally light and unable to jeopardize a beach holiday. They should be over within the end of December, albeit some scattered rains remain possible on average twice a week which is typical of a tropical coastal weather. The Kazkazi is a gentle wind and not annoying. Days are sunny, the sea should be calm with clear waters however, temperatures and humidity climb up to annual peaks.

Best diving conditions in Pemba as far as calm sea and wind are concerned go from October to the mid / end of March but if your interested mainly on pelagics [and Pemba is the best destination for this kind of sightings compared to Zanzibar and Mafia] then the best months are May to November when cooler water is coming up from the 800 m. deep Pemba channel.

Since weather patterns of Pemba are very close to those ones of Zanzibar, charts shown below can be considered a valid reference also for the archipelago of Mafia.

Rainfalls, Zanzibar

Sunshine hours, Zanzibar
Maximun annual temperatures, Zanzibar
Minimum annual temperatures, Zanzibar
Sea temperatures, Zanzibar Wind speed, Zanzibar east coast
wind speed in knots: 0 - 1 = calm: smoke rises vertically; the sea is flat.
wind speed in knots: 1 - 3 = light air: smoke drift indicates wind direction; ripples without crests.
wind speed in knots: 4 - 6 = light breeze: leaves rustle and wind vanes begin to move; small wavelets.
wind speed in knots: 7 - 10 = gentle breeze: leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended; large wavelets, crests begin to break, scattered whitecaps.
wind speed in knots: 11 - 16 = moderate breeze: dust and loose paper raised, small branches begin to move; small waves with breaking crests, fairly frequent whitecaps.
wind speed in knots: 17 - 21 = fresh breeze: small trees in leaf begin to sway; moderate waves of some length, many whitecaps.
wind speed in knots: 22 - 27 = strong breeze: large branches in motion, umbrella use becomes difficult; long waves begin to form. White foam crests are very frequent. Some airborne spray is present
wind speed in knots: 28 - 33 = moderate gale: whole trees in motion, effort needed to walk against the wind; sea heaps up, some foam from breaking waves is blown into streaks along wind direction, moderate amounts of airborne spray.
wind speed in knots: 34 - 40 = fresh gale: some twigs broken from trees, cars veer on road, progress on foot is seriously impeded; moderately high waves with breaking crests forming spindrift, well-marked streaks of foam are blown along wind direction, considerable airborne spray.
wind speed in knots: 41 - 47= strong gale: some branches break off trees and some small trees blow over, construction/temporary signs and barricades blow over; high waves whose crests sometimes roll over, dense foam is blown along wind direction, large amounts of airborne spray may begin to reduce visibility;
wind speed in knots: 48 - 55 = whole gale: trees are broken off or uprooted, saplings bent and deformed, poorly attached asphalt shingles and shingles in poor condition peel off roofs; very high waves with overhanging crests, large patches of foam from wave crests give the sea a white appearance, considerable tumbling of waves with heavy impact, large amounts of airborne spray reduce visibility.
wind speed in knots: 56 - 63 = violent storm: widespread damage to vegetation, any roofing surfaces are damaged; asphalt tiles that have curled up and/or fractured due to age may break away completely; exceptionally high waves, very large patches of foam, driven before the wind, cover much of the sea surface, very large amounts of airborne spray severely reduce visibility.
wind speed in knots: 64+ = hurricane: very widespread damage to vegetation, some windows may break, mobile homes and poorly constructed sheds and barns are damaged, debris may be hurled about; huge waves, sea is completely white with foam and spray, air is filled with driving spray, greatly reducing visibility.

NOTE: as in the rest of the world in Tanzania as well the weather is changing. Above charts should be taken as a reference guide but with no absolute value.

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