Climate in Costa Rica


Given its location between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, day length and temperature do not change drastically with the seasons. The sun rises around 5 am and sets around 6 pm year-round. One experiences temperature difference by changing altitude. The misty highlands are in the 10-13'C (50-55'F) range, while the Central Valley , at 1200 in (3800 feet), averages 220C (720F). Sea level temperature is 260C (800F) tempered by sea breezes on the coast. Slight variations occur in December, January and February due to cold winds from the North American winter. These cooler temperatures bring on the dry season or "summer", as Central Americans call it, which lasts from December through April. Temperatures rise as the sun approaches a perpendicular position over Costa Rica . This causes increased evaporation and brings on the rainy season, or "winter", which lasts from May through November, except for a 2-week dry season, the veranillo , sometime in July.

Costa Rica 's weather pattern is changing. It is not as predictable as it used to be. 1990 had many dry days during the ?winter" and a few storms during the "summer". A new rule of thumb is: The more gloriously sun- drenched the morning during the rainy season, the harder it will rain in the afternoon. Conversely, on a cloudy morning there will be less evaporation, and thus a generally drier day.

The Atlantic coast has always been an exception to the rule. Trade winds laden with moisture from the Caribbean approach Costa Rica from the northeast. As the moisture rises to the chilly heights of the Cordilleras , it condenses into rain on their eastern slopes. For this reason, there is no definite dry season in the Atlantic zone, but the beaches tend to be sunnier than the mountains. In a similar phenomenon, trade winds from the southeast discharge their moisture against the mountains that separate the Osa Peninsula from the rest of the country. The Atlantic plains and the Osa both receive 4000-7000 min (150 to 300") of rain a year, compared to an average of 2500 min (100") in the Central Valley.

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