Why does Ecuador only have two seasons?

Ericka & Stefano

When it comes to the weather, Ecuador stands out as a unique country with its peculiar climate patterns.

Unlike many other regions that experience four distinct seasons, Ecuador only has two seasons throughout the year.

The country experiences a dry season, known as “summer,” and a wet season, referred to as “winter.”

This phenomenon is primarily due to the interaction of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the cold Humboldt Current.

This article will try to explain why Ecuador has two seasons and shine a light on the interesting meteorological events that shape the country’s weather.

See also: Climate and Weather in Ecuador

What causes the two seasons in Ecuador?

The following three factors are critical in determining Ecuador’s summer and winter seasons.

The Equatorial geographical location

Ecuador is located on the equator, which is the imaginary line dividing the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

This geographical position plays a crucial role in determining the following climatic characteristics:

  1. Consistent sunlight: Due to its position on the equator, Ecuador receives direct sunlight throughout the year. This results in relatively consistent temperatures and fewer variations in the length of daylight hours. The consistent sunlight contributes to the warm and tropical climate experienced in many parts of the country.
  2. Intense solar radiation: Being on the equator means that Ecuador is exposed to intense solar radiation. This leads to higher levels of UV radiation, which require individuals to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from sunburn and other harmful effects of the sun.
  3. Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ): The equator is an important component of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), an area near the equator where the trade winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres converge.
  4. Diverse climate zones: Ecuador’s proximity to the equator gives rise to a diverse range of climate zones within the country. From the hot and humid coastal regions to the cooler highlands and the lush rainforests of the Amazon, the equator contributes to the varied climatic conditions found in different parts of Ecuador.

The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)

The Intertropical Convergence Zone, commonly known as the ITCZ, is an important factor influencing Ecuador’s weather patterns.

The ITCZ, a band of low pressure around the equator, moves north and south throughout the year. It is characterized by rising air and abundant rainfall.

Ecuador is situated within the ITCZ, leading to a predominantly tropical climate.

During Ecuador’s summer, the ITCZ shifts northward, bringing dry conditions to the region. Conversely, in winter, the ITCZ moves south, resulting in increased rainfall and higher humidity.

Influence of ocean currents

Ecuador’s climate is heavily influenced by two major ocean currents: the cold Humboldt Current and the warm El Niño Current.

The Humboldt Current, also known as the Peru Current, flows northward along the coast of Ecuador, bringing cool waters from Antarctica. This current contributes to the cool temperatures experienced along the coastal regions of the country.

Also, the Humboldt Current is rich in nutrients, fostering the development of a diverse marine ecosystem. The cool waters support abundant marine life, including fish, marine mammals, and seabirds, making the coastal waters of Ecuador a thriving ecosystem for diving, fishing and ecotourism.

On the other hand, the El Niño Current, associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is characterized by the warming of the Pacific Ocean. During an El Niño event, which occurs irregularly every few years, Ecuador experiences increased rainfall and warmer temperatures, altering the typical climate patterns.

The El Niño phenomenon can disrupt the regularity of Ecuador’s two seasons, causing unusual weather patterns.

Ecuador seasons

Ecuador experiences two main seasons throughout the year: the wet season (or rainy season) and the dry season.

This phenomenon is primarily due to the interaction of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the cold Humboldt Current.

Rainy Season: The winter

Ecuador experiences a rainy season, also known as the winter season, which typically lasts from December to May, although the exact duration and intensity can vary.

During this period, the country receives a significant amount of rainfall.

The wet season is influenced by the ITCZ and the warm El Niño current, which brings moisture and precipitation to the region.

Generally, it is the “hottest” season in all regions of Ecuador. But this is not a general rule in the Andean region, since this area has more temperature changes.

The rainy season brings lush green landscapes, vibrant flowers, and swollen rivers, making it an excellent time to explore Ecuador’s natural beauty.

If you enjoy the beach, this is the “beach season” (Temporada playera) on the Ecuadorian coast region, where you may enjoy exceptionally mild weather in both air and sea temperature.

Lluvia en Guayaquil
Guayaquil during wet season

Dry Season: The summer

The dry season, also referred to as the summer season, occurs from June to November in Ecuador. Unlike the rainy season, this period sees a decrease in rainfall and relatively drier conditions.

The dry season is influenced by factors such as the absence of the El Niño current and the presence of the Humboldt current, which brings cooler waters and contributes to drier conditions along the coast.

Generally, it is the “coldest” season in all ecuadorian regions, and is often preferred by travelers due to the more predictable weather and opportunities for outdoor activities.

In fact, sometimes you will be able to clearly see the peaks of the elevations in the Sierra during this season, which has clearer skies.

If you like warm beaches, you won’t like this time of year on the Ecuadorian coast, where it will be freezing, windy, and the water will be cold.

Even though everyone has a different idea of what “cold” means. We are costeños (from the coast of Ecuador), so it feels cold to us. But the weather is great for someone who comes from a cold place, like the highlands of Ecuador.

Puerto Ayora
Santa Cruz, Galapagos, during dry season
About the author

Hey there! We are Ericka and Stefano. As longtime citizens of this amazing country, we are honored to serve as your tour guides and offer our firsthand experiences, insider advice, and must-see attractions in Ecuador. So be prepare for an exciting journey through Ecuador’s unique treasures.

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