Whether the weather is wonderful - Loja climate

Clouds building up from the Amazon in the east, about an hour before sunset

If you've considered visiting or moving to Ecuador I'm sure one of the big questions to answer is concerns for the climate. You'll be wondering what kind of clothing to pack for how much heat or cold, humidity or dryness, you'll likely encounter during your stay.

I know many areas of the world experience seasonal weather variations. Being located on the equator, Ecuador's weather patterns are less extreme throughout the year, and Loja is no exception. But getting real hard numbers to describe average temperatures, rainfall, solar input, etc. is difficult. If you search for these stats online you'll quickly discover large discrepancies between sources.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that some stations collecting weather data are not actually located inside the city proper. They may be up one of the mountain sides or even in another locale (one of the reporting stations is in Catamayo where temperatures run 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than Loja, and rainfall is significantly less).

The other reason for seeing different data is that even within the city limits there are many microclimates. For example, the mountains forming the eastern boundary of the valley get more misty rain and experience wind direction mostly coming from the north. On the western mountains winds tend to be from the east, stronger, and a little drier. Downtown is warmer than the slopes, and less windy. Like realtors always say, "Location, location, location" matters.

Given that bit of background I'll try to give you the general scoop on our daily and seasonal weather.

High temperatures over a year average about 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). November and December and January are the warmest months and temps might max out as high as 83 (28ºC). June, July and August you could see highs of only mid to upper 60s (18ºC). Remember, I'm speaking about Loja's valley floor for these numbers.

Average annual low temperatures are around 55ºF (13ºC). Again, November and December the value might be 60 (15ºC) and June, July and August could drop as low as 42 (6ºC). It does not fall below freezing in Loja.

I've shown you the extreme highs and lows by season, but perhaps of more interest is how much temperatures can change in one day. Depending on solar radiation and cloudiness, the typical variation is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why Lojanos dress in layers. The chill of the morning can become quite warm under the early afternoon sun. As well, our concrete, brick and adobe buildings have a tendency to retain the coolness of the night so people who work inside often need a sweater most of the day.

The big factors affecting temperature are clouds and rain. It is common for there to be some amount of rainfall on most days. Now it may not be a lot - perhaps only a misty sun shower - and may not happen during daylight but at night. Our "dry" season could yield 2 inches of precipitation in a month and the "rainy" season might drop 5 inches. One enviable result of the dependable moisture is that Loja is always green, and there are always flowers and trees in bloom. We have a year-round growing climate, and rainbows - including doubles - are a frequent sighting.

The reason behind the rainfall has to do with the high Andes mountains forming the eastern side of Loja. The moisture-laden air of the Amazon is blowing from east to west and as it climbs the mountains the air is cooled and clouds form, cresting over the mountain tops ready to drop some of their load onto the city below. You can see an example of this phenomenon in the lead picture for this article.

Primarily, Loja is not about extremes. Dress in layers, and wear a hat or carry an umbrella for the sun or rain, and you'll be able to enjoy your time in my city.


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