El Salvador has a relatively homogeneous climate, with pronounced rainy and dry seasons and moderate temperatures. The country’s tropical climate has a typical wet season (May-October) and dry season (November-April). The average annual precipitation ranges from 1,100–1,500 mm in the interior valleys to 1,800–2,500 mm in the mountains and the Pacific coastal areas receive approximately 1,700 mm. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, which is likely to increase in strength and worsen the impact on Pacific countries due to climate change, subjects El Salvador to periodic floods and droughts. In both ENSO and non-ENSO years, El Salvador is consistently hit by large hurricanes and tropical storms that often result in widespread flooding, landslides, and disruption to the agricultural sector.
El Salvador has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in Latin America with regard to climate-related disasters. The country is particularly sensitive to the negative impacts of climate change due to its location (along the narrow part of the Central American isthmus), which exposes it to weather systems in both the Pacific and Caribbean / Atlantic). This increases the probability of extreme weather events occurring. The effects of climate change are exacerbated by the extent of El Salvador’s social, economic, and environmental problems, such as high rates of deforestation, which is also directly affecting poor communities with inadequate housing located on critical slopes in ravines and gullies. Mean temperatures range from 22°C (December) to 25°C (April). Monthly precipitation varies from 10 mm in February to 358 mm in September. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, with peak rainfall from June to September. The 307 km Pacific coastline is already experiencing rising sea levels and it is expected that 10–28% of the country’s coastal zone territory will be lost by the end of the century. These coastal areas are home to over 30% of the population and remain highly vulnerable to the combination of sea level rise and El Niño events. Additionally, since the 1950’s, sea level rise of 78 mm has been observed, further impacting coastal zones and existing flood plains.
- Temperatures in El Salvador are increasing approximately 0.35℃ per decade and temperatures have increased approximately 1.3℃ since the 1950s.
- The country has experienced an increase in the number of warm days and nights and a decrease in the number of cold days and nights.
- Precipitation in El Salvador is highly variable; an increased frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events have been observed since the 1960s.
- The country has experienced a reduction in total precipitation with increased drought and dry periods.
- El Salvador’s geography is dominated by a region known as the Dry Corridor, characterized by recurrent drought and heavy precipitation events that lead to flooding and landslides.