Climate and Weather in Central America

Central America is part of the American continent. Constituted by a long and narrow isthmus as a bridge between North America and South America, it is defined by geographers as part of North America, it has an area of 523,000 km 2 and includes the following countries: Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, as well as the southernmost sector of Mexico. See list of countries in Central America.


Central America constitutes a natural barrier that separates the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It also constitutes the western limit of the Caribbean Sea. It has an area of about 523,000 km2 and actually extends from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (in Mexico) to the valley of the Atrato River, in Colombia. In geological terms, Central America is based on the Caribbean plate, whose opposite limit is the arc of the Antilles islands.

It is a mountainous region and one of the areas of the American continent with the highest number of active volcanoes. The relief ascends from the narrow coastal region of the Pacific Ocean to the ridges of the mountains and gradually descends to a vast region that extends along the Caribbean Sea.

In order to circumvent it , the Panama Canal was built at its narrowest point, so that ships did not have to descend to Cape Horn or skirt the Cape of Good Hope, facilitating maritime transit to and from the eastern coasts of Asia and islands of Japan.

Central America climate

The climate in Central America can be divided into three zones.

Subtropical winter rainy climate

In the far northwest there is a small area with a subtropical winter rainy climate.

Dry subtropical climate

To the south and west of it joins a fairly dry subtropical zone as well. Only between 300 and 600 mm of precipitation fall here per year. They come down from the sky during the hotter rainy season from May to October. In the cooler months from November to April, this zone receives little rainfall.

Humid tropical climate

The hot and humid tropical area that includes the rest of Central America begins in southern Mexico. The seasonal temperature differences are hardly significant here. It is coldest everywhere around Christmas time, and the hottest between March and May.

However, the great topographical differences in Central America have a significant impact on the climate.

Tierra caliente

In the hot tierra caliente of up to 1,000 meters, the maximum daily temperatures are between 24 and 32 ° C.

The lowland areas of the tropical zone differ whether they are in the east on the Caribbean or in the west on the Pacific.

The eastern part is characterized by the wet north-east trade winds from the Caribbean Sea. These accumulate on the mountain ranges in the interior of Central America. The result is high annual precipitation of 3,000-5,000 mm. Despite the maximum precipitation in late spring and early autumn, there is no clear dry season here. In addition to year-round moisture and heat, there is an extremely high humidity of over 80%. The Caribbean coast is frequently hit by cyclones between August and October.

The tropical lowland on the Pacific having an average annual precipitation 1000-1650 mm significantly drier than the Caribbean side. On the Pacific side, the northeast trade wind turns into a dry fall wind that pushes the humid air masses back from the Pacific. As a result, there is usually a dry season between December and April. From May to November the Pacific air currents prevail and bring the rain. It is usually a little warmer on the Pacific coast than on the Caribbean side.

Tierra templada

In the temperate zone between 1,000 and 2,000 meters (Tierra templada), the highest temperatures reach 22 to 30 degrees. At night the values ​​drop down to 15 ° C.

Tierra fria

It is even cooler in the heights above (Tierra fria). During the day it is around 25 degrees. It gets significantly cooler at night. Temperatures can drop to 5-6 ° C. They sometimes even drop below freezing between December and February.

Best travel time for Central America

The best travel time for Central America is between November / December and March / April. Then less rain falls, it is very sunny and the temperatures are pleasantly warm, but not too hot. The air humidity also decreases in this phase.

However, there is also high tourist season with high prices and full hotels and beaches.

To pay a little less, avoid the weeks around Christmas and Easter.

It is better not to travel to Central America from May to November. During this period it is initially only very hot, from July onwards there will be heavy rainfall and humid conditions. Many traffic connections can then be interrupted. There is also a threat of tropical cyclones and hurricanes on the Atlantic coast.

Only for surfers and rafters should come especially in the rainy season, because then the strongest winds blow and the rivers carry most of the water.

Also see Abbreviation Finder for a list of abbreviations and acronyms of all countries in Central America.

Weather in Central America

Climate and Weather in Central America
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