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Why does snow fall on Mount Kilimanjaro when it is situated right on the equator?


Although Mount Kilimanjaro is situated very near the equator, it has a peak elevation of 19,335.6 feet (5895 meters). At this elevation, even near the equator, the temperature rarely gets above freezing, so precipitation normally falls as snow.

There are a couple of other volcanoes near Kilimanjaro that also have snow on them, Meru, also in Tanzania (peak elevation of 15,000 ft, 4565 m), and Mt. Kenya (almost directly on the equator, with a peak elevation of 17,058 ft, 5199 m) in Kenya. They are part of a group of about 20 volcanoes in that part of Africa.

David R. Cook
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division

In addition, to latitude, altitude plays an important role in the temperature of a particular location. All mountains that are sufficiently high will be cold enough for snow to form.

Vince Calder

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