By Sylvan Hardy
Change is in the air, according to Ecuador’s meteorology institute (Inamhi), as the rainy season gives way to the dry season. In the inter-mountain region of the country, June weather will range between cloudiness with some rain to periods intense sunshine when residents will need to take precautions against high levels of ultraviolet radiation.
On Saturday, Vladimir Arreaga, Inamhi forecaster said that Cuenca and Quito registered below average morning low temperatures with above average afternoon readings. Both cities recorded lows of eight degrees (45 Fahrenheit) while Quito had an afternoon high of 23 (73F) and Cuenca reached 24 (75F). “This is not unusual for this time of year if there are several hours of sunshine. On the other hand, if there is all-day cloud-cover, high temperatures will be three or four degrees below average,” he says.
While June is a transition month, July and August are the coolest and driest months of the year in the sierra, according to Arreaga. “Those month are often the cloudiest of the year, despite being dry, because of the temperature differential between the Amazon region and the Pacific Ocean,” he says.
He adds that during periods of heavy cloud cover in July and August, daily highs may only reach 14 or 15 degrees (high-50sF).
The change of season is the result of several factors, Inamhi says. The Humboldt – or Antarctic – Current in the Pacific Ocean strengthens this time of year, bringing more cold water up from the South Pole and, at the same time, cool, dry winter air from the Peru and Argentina flows in from the south. High temperatures in July and August average 17 to 18 degrees (64 to 66F) compared to 22 (72F) in November and December, the warmest months of the year. Rainfall averages one inch per month in July and August, compared to 4.25 inches in April and May.
For the Cuenca record
Based on the 30-year average, the year-round high temperature in Cuenca averages 21 degrees (70F) while the average low is 10 (50F). The highest temperature ever recorded was 28 (82F) while the lowest was -1 (30F).
Average annual rainfall is 30 inches with March, April and May being the wettest months and July and August being the driest.
No snowfall has been recorded in Cuenca in the past 50 years but as much as 12 inches has fallen in the Cajas Mountains, 15 miles west of town.
Average relative humidity is about 60%, but due to cool temperatures, the dew point keeps things comfortable. On sunny days in dry weather, it’s not uncommon to see humidity levels drop to 20%.
Ecuador is not the place for sun lovers. Cuenca averages 1,785 hours of annual sunshine, slightly above the national average of 1,741, which is to say it’s sunnier than San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago but about 30% less sunny than Miami. The desert areas along the coast and near the Peruvian border are not much sunnier due to the clash of ocean and land air masses.