Madagascar's geography creates many climatic subdivisions. The coastal climate is hot and tropical, with the east coast receiving the most rainfall (more than 160 inches of rain in Maroantsetra.). This is due to the effect of moisture-laden trade winds off the Indian Ocean as they encounter the steep escarpment of the Madagascar coastline. The east coast is also most affected by the cyclones which periodically hit the island, often causing extensive damage. East coast temperatures reach an average high of 85° in the summer and 72° in the winter.
On the west coast, precipitation levels drop off from north to south. There are desert areas of the deep south which receive only 2 inches of rain per year. West coast temperatures are generally several degrees warmer than the east coast temperatures.
The central highlands, where the capital Antananarivo is located, have a more temperate climate. There are two primary seasons; the rainy summer season, which lasts from approximately November through mid-March; and the dry season, from mid-March through October. In (southern) summer, there are periods of rain almost every day, often in the late afternoon. Cyclones, which can affect the coastal areas, do not reach the highlands, but their influence can cause extended periods of rain. The average daily high temperature in summer is in the mid 80's, with a hot mid-day sun alternating with the periods of rain. Nighttime lows average in the low 60's.
The shoulder months of April, May and September, October are very pleasant, with little rain, blue skies, and daytime highs in the 70's. In the (southern) winter months of June-August, the skies are often sunny and daytime highs can reach the mid-to-high 60s. However, there are also chilly days which are overcast and windy with daytime highs in the 50's. Nighttime lows in winter can drop into the 40's in Antananarivo.