Morocco, a country a little larger than France, occupies the northwestern corner of Africa. With a coastline on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it commands the southern shores of the narrow Straits of Gibraltar. It includes parts of the same three relief areas shown for Algeria. There is a narrow coastal belt with a typical Mediterranean climate; an interior region of high mountains and plateaux; and a southern fringe on the margin of the Sahara desert. Morocco has a long eastern border with Algeria and a short southern border with Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).
The northern coast of Morocco and the interior mountains, the Rif, have a Mediterranean climate similar to that described for Algeria. Northwestern Morocco, especially the Rif mountains, is exposed to Atlantic depressions in winter and rainfall is moderately heavy. The Atlantic coast as far south as Agadir receives over 200 mm/8 in of rain in winter but farther south the climate becomes progressively drier and the Sahara desert extends to the coast. Rainfall increases to over 400 mm/16 in north of Casablanca.
Sea and air temperatures on the Atlantic coast are kept lower than along the Mediterranean coast by the cool waters of the Canaries current. Along this coast summer temperatures are significantly cooler than inland and the cold offshore water causes some cloud and fog in summer. Winters on the Atlantic coast are very mild and snow is unknown. The table for Rabat illustrates conditions on this coast.
Inland in the high Atlas Mountains the weather and climate are much influenced by altitude. The Atlas Mountains here are at their grandest with the highest point rising to 4,163 m/13,655 ft. Winter snowfall can be heavy and the highest areas are snow-covered well into the summer. Inland at lower levels the summers are very hot, while in winter and spring winds blowing off the mountains can cause some very chilly days. At medium altitudes the climate of Morocco is healthy and very pleasant around the year. Summers are hot but the humidity is quite low while the winters are generally mild and sunny despite some spells of changeable weather (see the table for Marrakech).
The climate of the Saharan region of Morocco is similar to that described for Algeria except that in the south, where the desert reaches the coast, summer temperatures are moderated by the cool ocean waters and persistent daytime sea breezes. Here winter temperatures are also milder than inland.
Daily hours of sunshine on the Atlantic coast average nine to ten as compared with up to twelve inland in the desert. Cloud in the Atlas Mountains also reduces summer sunshine to some extent. In winter, sunshine hours range from five to six a day in the north to as many as eight south of Agadir.
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