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Climate and Weather

Costa Rica - Climate and Weather


Despite being a small country, Costa Rica boasts an incredibly varied landscape and coasts along two different oceans, giving it a changeable climate with extreme weather patterns. The climate varies according to the different geographical regions – cloud forests, coasts (both Caribbean and Pacific), mountains and rainforests. Each of these regions has its own microclimate and you can travel from one to another within very short distances.

As a general overview, the Costa Rican climate is divided into a dry season (December – April) and rainy season or ‘green season’ (May - November). Temperatures range from lows of 14oC around December-January to highs of 26oC around April/May. Average monthly rainfall can reach up to 350mm in the months of September and October but most days also see some sunshine with heavy rainfall being intermittent. Being close to the equator, sunrise and sunset is consistent throughout the year - at approximately 5.45am and 5.45pm respectively – and you can expect on average over 12 hours of sunshine a day throughout the year.

The best weather in Costa Rica occurs between December to April, when the country is generally very dry and sunny, with barely any rain. The Northern Pacific coast is the region that experiences the least rain and is a popular place for holidaymakers, despite the intense humidity. This is an ideal region for surfing and also has plenty of marine life for wildlife enthusiasts.

In the tropical rainforest regions, such as on the Osa Peninsula, it can rain all year round. Most rain falls between the months of September to November and during this time rivers are likely to swell and rural roads may become flooded and inaccessible. The high rainfall can make transport around the country very difficult so a suitable vehicle is imperative if you are based in a rural region.

San Jose and the Central Valley have pleasant weather all year round – warm and fresh with some showers. The average temperature here is around 22oC with plenty of sunshine, but also wind which keeps it cool. This has made it the most densely populated area in Costa Rica. The lowland areas of the Central Pacific, South Pacific and Caribbean Coast can be very humid with lots of insects so you will need to be prepared with suitable clothing, insect repellent and mosquito nets. The mountainous regions of Costa Rica are likely to be a lot cooler, and may even experience frost or snow if you climb high enough.

Due to the warm temperatures and humidity across the country you will need to own light clothing that allows you to keep cool, and you should be very careful to protect yourself from the sun during the months of March-May. However raincoats, umbrellas and quick-drying clothes are always a necessity as rain can be expected at any time of year. Typically, mornings will be dry and sunny with rain falling mainly in the afternoons.

Costa Rica is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and has six active volcanoes, with several other dormant volcanic sites. The risk of danger is very small but eruptions are possible; mild volcanic activity is the most likely occurrence though. Earthquakes are frequent in Costa Rica and precautions should be taken – in 2009 an earthquake in Central Costa Rica killed 32 people.

Both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts pose a threat of strong coastal currents and rip tides, and with very few lifeguards on the beaches caution is recommended when swimming. June to November is classed as hurricane season, however it is highly unlikely that Costa Rica will actually be hit by a hurricane – the main damage normally occurs as a result of heavy rain. Costa Rica has an effective disaster response system for any natural disasters that might occur, and also has a good track record of environmental management that minimises the chance of environmental hazards. However, you can keep up to date on extreme weather patterns by contacting the following organisations:

World Meteorological Organization
A specialised agency of the United Nations which reports on the Earth’s weather, climate and water patterns.
Tel: +41(0)22 730 81 11
Email: wmo@wmo.int
https://www.wmo.int/

National Hurricane Center
The official source for worldwide hurricane predictions.
Email: NHC.Public.Affairs@noaa.gov
http://www.noaa.gov/


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