When people think of the southern most Central American county of Panama, they consider its weather to be a tropical maritime climate, hot and humid. Well, after 8 years here myself, and living in different areas of Panama, and traveling across this country many times, I have discovered multiple different climates in the country, and many micro climates in certain areas. In this article we will travel across the country starting in Panama City, and ending in the mountains of Chiriquí, and discuss the climate in Panama.
With Panama only being 8 degrees north of the equator, the daylight hours are quite consistent through out the year, between 11.5 and 12.5 hours. The sun rises around 6am and sets around 6pm, every day, which was difficult for me to get used to coming from Canada, when in the summer, the sun would set at 9pm, and at 4pm in the winter. This does offer quicker cooling down in the evenings, and the sun is setting just after 6pm.
Panama only has 2 seasons, call the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season is from mid December through April, where there is little rain, and more wind, and the rainy season starts in May and progressively gets more rainy through November, with October and November historically being the wettest. The temperature remains very constant through the year with a daytime high and evening low keeping about the same through out the year.
Panama City, and area, (including Coronado and beach areas)
Home to ½ the inhabitants of this county is that tropical maritime climate, with the closer to the water, offering a few degrees cooler temperatures with the ocean breezes. Daytime highs are close to 32° F (90° F) with night time lows around 24° C (76° F). Rainfall amounts do vary a bit by region, Pacific, Caribbean and central, but the average annual rainfall in Panama City is 172cm (68in) with 101 days a year receiving some rain.
When I first read that when I was researching my move and checking out the climate in Panama, that scared me a bit that 1/3 of the days are raining. But in the tropics, like Panama, the rain usually only starts in the later afternoon, and last for an hour or two, and it rains very hard during this shower. Most days of the year, in Panama, you will wake up to sunshine. The months that you can get full days with rain are October and November.
A mountain town, just one hour north or Coronado, and is becoming quite popular with expats. One of the reasons for it’s popularity, would be it’s slightly cooler temperatures due to its 600m (2000ft) higher elevation. The average daytime highs here are 28° C (82° F) and average evening lows of 23°C (74° F). It is much wetter up in the mountains in Panama, with El Valle de Anton receiving and average of 350cm (137in) of rain annually. Again, I stress that all day rains are not very common in Panama, just real heavy afternoon showers.
These areas are the driest in panama, this area is know as the “dry arch”. Temperatures here have an average high of 29.5°C (85°F) and average night time low of 25°C (77°F). Average annual rainfall is 134cm (53in) with virtually no rain in January through March. An interesting fact is that the months of January through March that Panamanians call summer, and the kids get their summer holidays from school in January and February. This is also high season for tourism and the beaches of course.
This city known to be the hottest Latin American City. David, located in the western province of Chiriquí, has an average daily temperature of 33°C (92°F), and is located just off the pacific coast by about 5km, so there are no cooling Pacific breezes, keeping the humidity high and the humidex can push the temperatures up several more degrees. Rainfall here is average with 175cm (68in) annually.
Boquete and Volcan
Mountain towns with cool temperatures. These areas attract a lot of expats, primary due to the climate, which is like perpetual spring, all year round. Boquete at 1200m (3900ft), and Volcan at 1300m (4350ft), certainly experience cooler climates than the rest of Panama. The two towns are nestled in valleys at opposite ends of the 3475m (11400ft) high Volcan Baru, a non-active Volcano.
Boquete, with it’s daytime highs of 25°C (77°F) and night time lows of 16°C (61°F), for many retirees it is the perfect climate. Volcan can be a couple degrees cooler. Now there is a lot of rain here, and again, just heavier than in other parts of Panama, with an average annual rainfall of 314cm (123in). Slightly higher in Volcan. Up in these mountain towns, you will find many micro climates, which varying amounts of heat, sunshine, wind and rain.
One good thing about the climate in Panama, is that there are no climate related natural disasters. We are outside of hurricane and typhoons range, and no tornadoes. We can however get remits of these storms, as they pass through the Caribbean or Pacific, with a few days of wet and windy weather.
Even after all my research, before I moved here, I was still scared of the rainfall amounts. I had spent the last 20 years in Canada in Vancouver, where in winter, it could raid non-stop for 21 days straight, and not see the sun for 2 months. Panama actually receives double the rainfall that Vancouver, Canada does annually, so my fears had some just. But after living here for a few months, I realized that you do wake up to sunshine almost every morning, and the rains only come in the afternoon, for an hour or to, but man does it rain. It is not unusual for get a couple inches in an hour here, but that is why the amounts annually are so high, it is not that I rains all day.
Come join us on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, and experience the climate in Panama for yourself in all these areas that we will visit, to see what you would prefer. After 8 years here, I love the weather, the rains keep everything green, lush and fresh. I have the ability to live in a cooler climate, that is just one hour to the hot beaches, and some of my friends love and live in the hot weather, and they can escape to the cooler mountains for a weekend getaway. Panama does almost have it all in weather, but sorry snow lovers, no skiing.