What is the weather like in the desert?

35 views | 12:37pm on Tuesday 2nd March 2021

Have you ever been curious about how the weather’s like in the desert? Is it just very, very dry and extremely hot in all deserts all around the globe? Well, it’s not really like that! If you want to know the answer to the question of “What is the weather like in the desert?”, don’t miss out on today’s article!

Thinking about the desert, the first thing that comes to our mind must be the scorching hot weather with endless sand dunes, right? But in fact, not only that, but there are also a lot of other interesting facts related to desert weather that you might not know. Do you know that there are different types of deserts and each one of them has specialized weather characteristics? Keep reading on to know “What is the weather like in the desert?” right below here. Let’s see what they are now!

What is the weather like in the desert

The Sahara Desert

According to sciening.com, there are 4 fundamental types of deserts in the world. They are the hot-and-dry desert (also known as subtropical desert), the semiarid desert (also known as cold-winter desert), the coastal desert, and the cold desert (also known as polar desert).

Each of them, of course, has different weather patterns featuring different characteristics related to the temperature, the seasons, the precipitation, and a lot more. Here are the details about the weather in different types of desserts for you to see.

Hot-and-dry deserts

Among the 4 types of deserts, the type of hot-and-dry desert is hotter and drier than the rest. For the most part, hot-and-dry deserts have hot temperatures during the day and very cold temperatures during the night. Along with this is the very little rainfall during the whole year.

During the day, the temperatures in some hot-and-dry deserts can reach up to 49 degrees Celsius (equal to 120 degrees Fahrenheit). But surprisingly, the temperatures in this type of desert might fall to as low as -18 degrees Celsius (or 0 degrees Fahrenheit) in the middle of the night. What a harsh weather condition!

About the precipitation, well, as you can imagine, the rainfall in the hot-and-dry deserts is very, very low while the evaporation rate is much higher, making this area always so dry. Though rainfall in the hot-and-dry deserts is generally low, it varies among different areas.

What is the weather like in the desert

What is the weather like in the desert of Sahara?

For example, while the rainfall amount in the Sahara Desert is as little as 1.5 cm (or 0.6 inches) per year, the American deserts receive as much as 28 cm (or 11 inches) of rain per year. But the Sahara Desert is not the driest desert in the world. It’s the Atacama Desert in Chile - the driest place on the planet where the annual rainfall is less than 0.5 inches.

In addition to the Sahara Desert and the Atacama Desert, the Mojave Desert and the Australian Desert are the other examples of hot-and-dry deserts. Well, sand is almost everything you can find there. Besides, low shrubs and short trees can be also found in these areas.  

Semiarid deserts

The second type of desert that we want to introduce to you here is the semiarid deserts. Quite similar to the hot-and-dry deserts mentioned recently, semiarid deserts also have long dry summer, little rainfall, and extreme temperatures swing between day and night, but of course, not as extreme as the hot-and-dry type of desert.

Do you want to know more about “what is the weather like in the desert type of semiarid”? Here are the details!

Well, summers in semiarid deserts have temperatures of about between 21 degrees Celsius and 27 degrees Celsius (equal to 69 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit). These are the average temperatures during the day in the summer in semiarid deserts. Sometimes, the day temperatures can also be as high as 38 degrees Celsius (or about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas.

What is the weather like in the desert

Semiarid deserts

During the night, the temperatures in semiarid deserts can drop to about 10 degrees Celsius (or 50 degrees Fahrenheit). As you can see, the day-to-night temperature fluctuations in this type of weather desert are not as wide as in the hot-and-dry desert.

About the precipitation in semiarid deserts, on average, they receive between 2cm and 4cm (or 0.8 inches and 1.6 inches) of rainfall per year. Also, some deserts might receive more annual water from the condensation of dew created during the evening than from rainfall.

Due to the less harsh weather condition, semiarid deserts have more biodiversity than hot-and-dry deserts. The composition of soil there is more varied, including fine-textured sand, gravel, loose rock fragments, and more. The presence of plants in this type of desert is also various with cactus, bur sage, catclaw, jujube, creosote bush, etc.

Semiarid deserts can be found in Russia, northern Asia, Montana, Newfoundland, and other areas.

Coastal deserts

The next type of desert here is the coastal desert. As compared to the two types of deserts mentioned above, the weather condition in coastal deserts is much less harsh with lower day temperature and higher annual rainfall.

On average, the summer temperatures in coastal deserts range from 13 - 24 degrees Celsius (or 55 - 57 degrees Fahrenheit), while the winter temperatures can drop to less than 5 degrees Celsius (or 41 degrees Fahrenheit).

In fact, the maximum temperature found in coastal deserts is around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), and the minimum temperature in this type of desert is about -4 degrees Celsius (about 25 degrees Fahrenheit).

What is the weather like in the desert

The Namib Desert

As compared to the 2 types of deserts listed above, coastal deserts are not so hot and also not so dry. Average rainfall in coastal deserts ranges between 8 cm and 13 cm (3 inches and 5 inches) per year. Noticeably, some coastal deserts have also recorded as much rainfall as 37cm (14.5 inches) per year. That’s what is the weather like in the desert of the coastal type. 

Thanks to the better weather conditions, there’s big biodiversity in coastal deserts, for both plants and animals.

Coastal deserts are usually found in regions with generally cool to moderately warm weather. The Namib Desert in southern Africa is an example of a coastal desert.

Cold deserts: What is the weather like in the desert?

Cold deserts are also known as polar deserts. Unlike any other former types of deserts mentioned above, the polar desert is a lot more humid, especially in the winter.

Winter in cold deserts comes in mid-December at the north polar areas and in mid-June in the south polar areas and lasts for 3 months. There will be snow in polar deserts during the cold winter months.

On average, annual precipitation in this type of desert is between about 15 cm and 26 cm (6 inches and 10 inches) which is much higher than the 3 other types of desert listed previously. Interestingly, the highest annual precipitation ever recorded in a polar desert was as high as 46 cm (18 inches).

What is the weather like in the desert

Cold desert

During the summer, temperatures in cold deserts are between 21 to 26 degrees Celsius (or 69 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit). But in the winter months, the temperatures there drop to around -2 to 4 degrees Celsius (or 28 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

In spite of higher precipitation, it doesn't mean that cold desert areas are greener than other deserts. In contrast, plants are rare in this desert type with just a few species like spiny deciduous plants, some mosses, and fungi. 

As its name suggests, polar deserts or cold deserts are located at 2 poles of the Earth. While the Antarctic polar desert is the world’s largest desert with a total area of about 5.5 million square miles, the Arctic polar desert with 5.4 million square miles is also the second-largest one. Well, even though the Sahara Desert is about 3.5 million square miles, it is not the largest desert on Earth.


Recently, we learned about weather characteristics in 4 main different types of desert existing on the planet. Now, you had the answer to the question of “What is the weather like in the desert”, right? It’s not only just about scorching temperatures and endless sand dunes, isn’t it? As you can see, there are a lot of interesting things and diversified features when it comes to desert weather. And that’s all for today’s article. In the end, we hope that all the information introduced in this article here is helpful and interesting to you.