Central America Weather Overview
Lying in the North East of the region is the nation of Belize, a tiny nation which only gained independence in 1981. The country is home to less than 300,000 people, one of the lowest country population counts in the world.
Weather conditions in Belize, much like a lot of Central America, are subtropical, with distinct wet and dry seasons. Belize plays host to a high level of humidity, averaging at 83%, but the cooling sea breezes provide a break from the discomfort this causes.
The average annual temperature range in Belize is about 10°C to 35°C and it sees an annual mean of 26°C. November through until January are the coolest months and May through until September are the warmest months. The temperature and conditions vary depending on proximity to the coast and to local mountain ranges.
Belize is home to a charming weather phenomenon called the ânight rainsâ: very early morning is cooled by very light rainfall. This occurs as a result of the cool air coming down from the mountain range. Once the cool air hits the coast the region is sprinkled with delicate rainfall, often accompanied by rainbows at sunrise.
See here for the average conditions for the countryâs capital, Belize City.
The east coast of Central America, including the nations of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are affected by the local trade winds. In January in Belize the north-easterly trade winds blow over the country resulting in very little rainfall. Come February the dry easterly winds sweep over the country and causing morning showers along the coast.
Adjacent to Belize, lying to its southwest, is Guatemala, making up 108,890 km² of Central America. Because of its location upon the Caribbean Sea, Guatemalaâs east coast is subject to hurricanes. Hurricanes cause strong winds, severe flooding and mudslides- the most destructive in recent times being Hurricane Stan in 2005 which killed over 1500 people.
Guatemala has enjoyable weather year round. The country is hot though all weather conditions vary depending on elevation. There are two major mountain ranges which lie from east to west and as a result the land is split into 3 main areas- the Pacific coast low lands, the highlands of the mountain ranges and the Peten region which is the lowlands to the north of the mountains.
In the lowlands the weather is generally humid and hot, classified as tropical. Conditions are colder and drier in the highlands.
The majority of rain falls from May to November, a wet season that is more pronounced in the northern parts of the country. On the coast and in the northeast you will witness a dry season from November to April and during this time temperatures can get particularly hot.
In the highlands the climate is pleasant, while it can drop to chilly lows come sundown. There is less rainfall here than on the coast.
Guatemala is home to 14 different eco regions
which host no less than 1246 species of animals! (see here for average
conditions in Guatemala City)
Hondrus, situated between 13° and 16°N, is one of the largest countries in Central America. Honduras typically receives most of its rainfall during the âwinterâ period, which is rather unusual for this region. The country sees lower annual rainfall than its neighbouring countries.
Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea on its north coast and the Pacific Ocean on its south coast, and the climate varies depending on proximity to the different bodies of water and elevation. As a rule, the weather is tropical in the lowlands and more temperate in the mountain ranges. Central and southern Honduras is hotter and less humid than the northern coast.
Much of Honduras is made up of mountains, 81% of the terrain to be exact. There are narrow plains which lie along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and there is a large jungle (the La Mosquitia jungle) which sits in the northeast and is largely undeveloped. The lowland of San Pedro Sula in the northwest is the most heavily populated region in the country.
See here for weather averages in Tegucigalpa, the nationâs capital.
Lying on the west coast, neighbouring Honduras, is the much smaller nation of El Salvador. El Salvador is mountainous with its highest points reaching over 1,800 m. It is also the only country in Central America with that has no coastline on the Caribbean Sea.
El Salvador is home to a typical tropical climate, consisting of distinct wet and dry seasons. There is very little change in temperature across the year (similar to conditions in Bali) and temperature differs mainly due to elevation. There is a rainy season from May to October; the remainder of the year is considerably drier.
The lowlands along the Pacific coast are the hottest and most humid in the country, and the monthly average ranges from 25°C to 29°C. The annual temperature in San Salvador is 23°C with an absolute maximum of 38°C and minimum of 16°C.
In the mountain areas temperatures get much, much colder and the annual averages fall 12°C to 11°C with minimum temperatures occasionally approaching freezing.
The northeast trade winds are the main determinant of weather patterns from November through until April. During this time, the air that flows from the Caribbean, after passing through the Honduras mountain ranges, has become dry and hot and leaves a haze across the sky.
See here for average weather conditions in El Salvadorâs capital, San Salvador.
In the centre of Central America is the nation of Nicaragua, with a Caribbean coast on the east and a Pacific coast on the west. Like Guatemala the country is split into three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands, the North-Central highlands and the Atlantic Lowlands. So, like much of Central America, it is the elevation and proximity to the oceans and seas that decides the weather. However, Nicaragua isnât quite as mountains as other countries within Central America so it doesnât see quite the temperature extremes that its northern counterparts see.
The west coast of the country is known to be one of the wettest parts of Central America, playing host to 2,500-3,750 mm average annual precipitation.
See here for average conditions for Managua, the capital which lies in the west.
Panama lies in the very south of Central America, between 7°N and 9°N, and it occupies the narrowest part of the region. The climate here is obviously one of the most 'tropical' as it lies the closest to the equator, though conditions are not too dissimilar to its more northern counterparts.