Is Costa Rica affected by Hurricane Season?
Most people in the planning stage of their vacation or business trip often ask if there are hurricanes in Costa Rica. And if so, when?
The little country is bordered by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and is affected by weather conditions from both. However, a hurricane has never made direct landfall in Costa Rica in recorded history. Read on to find out why.
According to the United States’ National Hurricane Center (NHC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Pacific and Atlantic hurricane seasons run from June 1 through November 30 every year.
There is no “Costa Rica” hurricane season, per se. However, the official rainy season runs from May to late November. Not too different from the NHC and NOAA’s forecasts.
But don’t worry. Hurricanes and cyclones never form between 5 degrees South and 5 degrees North latitudes of the equator. Combine that with the Coriolis Force – a phenomenon created by the Earth’s rotation – and the possibility of hurricanes this far south is slim to none.
In simpler terms, Costa Rica, which is just under 10 degrees North latitude, only gets the heavy rains and high winds spinning off of nearby storms. Nonetheless, repercussions from prolonged rainfall and flooding can still cause serious problems for the country. Especially for people wanting to drive to and from several destinations.
So when should you visit? The answer depends on where your planning to go and what you want to do once here.
Facts about the weather in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s topography is geographically intense. Running from north to south, the nation is dissected by five impressive mountain ranges, including seven volcanoes and dozens of extinct volcanoes. The combination of coastal and high altitude terrain results in an abundance of micro-climates. And each has its own distinct weather patterns.
This is also a tropical country, which means that rain is a regular and necessary occurrence. But don’t be misled. Only during the wettest months will visitors sometimes experience rainfall that lasts for days on end.
As a rule of thumb, the northern zone is driest and the country becomes wetter the farther south you travel. The northernmost Guanacaste Province is a prime tourist destination because it receives less rainfall than the rest of the country. It is also famous for its world-class surf and golden-sand beaches.
Down on the southernmost Pacific Coast, you’ll find some of the wettest terrains. The Osa Peninsula, for example, is home to the Corcovado National Park. The park consists of rain and coastal forests and is considered one of the most biologically intense places on Earth, according to National Geographic.
People who visit this region should expect rain and pack accordingly. It is not recommended to visit this region during the wettest months of September and October. Most roads are impassable and swollen rivers make getting around difficult. Visit our in-depth article on Costa Rica Weather for more details.
What is the best time of year to go to Costa Rica?
Despite all of the factors influencing the weather and climate in Costa Rica, there are only two official seasons throughout the year: the dry season and the rainy season (also known as the green season).
Some good news is that the country experiences these seasons at different times of the year depending on what coast you’re nearest to. For example, Costa Rica travelers wishing to visit the Caribbean side should do so in September and October when the climate is dryer.
The Atlantic Coast receives regular rainfall approximately 10 months out of the year. Their dry season peaks during these two months. And coincidentally, this is the Caribbean Coast’s high tourist season.
The dry season on the country’s Pacific side and central zone runs from late November through May. And the rainy season runs from late November through April. Many U.S. residents like to think of the Pacific and central zone rainy season as running from Holy Week (Easter) to Thanksgiving.
December and January are considered the peak months for visiting these regions because the landscape is lush with vibrant green foliage from the recently diminished rains. This is also the holiday season for most world countries and the high tourist season for Costa Rica as well. Hotels and car rentals are usually booked solid, so it’s a good idea to reserve ahead.
A typical Costa Rican day during the rainy season on either side of the nation can be characterized as follows. Mornings are almost always bright, hot, and sunny and afternoon showers start moving in around 3 p.m. If the season is at its heaviest then the number of hours of sunshine drops.
Check here for more detailed information on the Costa Rica Rainy Season.
Renting a car during the rainy season
Because of the country’s diverse geography, most visitors who plan on traveling to more than one destination choose to rent a 4WD vehicle. Those planning on staying in the Central Valley or near the Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste Province can get away with renting a sedan or compact car.
Adobe Rent a Car has the largest fleet of vehicles to choose from nation-wide. For help deciding what type of vehicle best fits your itinerary, contact one of our bilingual Adobe agents at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, did Costa Rica get hit by a hurricane recently?
For those readers interested in hurricanes Costa Rica history, you won’t be disappointed. This little country has had its share of repercussions from passing storms. Yet, we consider ourselves lucky compared to other Caribbean, Central America, and North American countries where hurricanes hit directly.
There are no recorded hurricanes to make landfall on Costa Rican soil. Nonetheless, 2016 Hurricane Otto was the first storm to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin since 1851. In fact, Otto hit the southeast coast of Nicaragua and brought with it devastating heavy rains and high winds.
Several communities along the Caribbean Coast experienced extensive flooding and landslides. And as the storm dissipated and moved westward over Central America several additional communities suffered from the increased precipitation.
Another notable storm is Hurricane Nate, which reaped havoc on Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and other Central American countries in 2017. It is considered one of the costliest hurricanes in the country’s history.
The Costa Rican Government is well equipped to deal with natural disasters and has in-depth experience keeping its tourist populations safe and sound. If you’re traveling to Costa Rica during the peak of hurricane season check the local weather forecasts or ask your country’s embassy or consulate for recommendations.