Jun 26 2016

Costa Rica Weather–May 2016 Observations, Facts, & Tidbits


You’ll notice that we now show rainfall and temperatures for eleven towns in Costa Rica:

  • San Ramón de Alajuela
  • Atenas
  • Nuevo Arenal
  • Quepos
  • Near San Isidro de General
  • San Rafael de Heredia
  • Tinamastes, Perez Zeledon
  • El Cajón de Grecia
  • Grand View Estates, Siquirres
  • Volio de Cachí, Orosi Valley
  • Escazú

This isn’t weather forecasting. We report after the fact to give you a much better picture of the weather in each of these areas. You can click on the map above to enlarge it and check out the average rainfall for the towns in which you are interested.

Do you track the weather data for your town in Costa Rica? If so, we’d like to talk to you about including it in our monthly report. Anybody interested?? (NOTE: we plan to include weather reports for both Puriscal and Santa Cruz in the coming months.)

Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May

If read every month, the following “observations, facts, & tidbits” can give you great insight into the areas of the country in which you might be interested. They are personal insights from folks with their feet on the ground in these towns.

Paul’s San Ramón Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • The month cooled off considerably from April’s average high temperature of 80.1°F. It cooled off by over 4 degrees to an average high temperature of 76.0°F. That’s a big drop in one month. Two days in May did hit 80°F.
  • This was the rainiest May in the 8 rainy seasons we’ve been measuring rainfall. We had double the average rainfall for May in San Ramon, and 14 inches more than last May. (Remember, we live at 3,000 ft. elevation, yet only 10 minutes from the town of San Ramon by car.) With all the micro-climates, it probably rained less in town and was probably a little warmer too.
  • We got 22.45″ of rain for the month, and 3 days accounted for 16.25″ of it.
  • On our rainiest day, we got 6.25″ The morning was sunny; all the rain fell during the afternoon and evening.
  • We feel so lucky:
    • We’ve got each other
    • We’ve got our health
    • We’ve got enough money to live in Costa Rica
    • We have a strong sense of purpose
  • costa-rica-map_cropped4Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of San Ramón:
    • 2015 – 103 inches
    • 2014 – 120 inches
    • 2013 – 111 inches 

Lance T’s Atenas Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • Not much to report except for a dramatic rainfall in late May, signifying the onset of the rainy season. Despite dribbles and drabbles of rain in many days of the month, late May brought one day with upwards of 4 inches.
  • This was symptomatic of the first day we arrived in Costa Rica 5 years ago on May 31, 2011. The heavy rain was incredible then. It remains so today, when it happens – a great experience.
  • Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Atenas:
    • 2015 – 63.70 inches
    • 2014 – 73.59 inches
    • 2013 – 63.84 inches

John’s Nuevo Arenal Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • We were unable to report  temperature readings from May 21-23 because the screen on our atomic clock went blank. The last time this happened was in February, when there was extreme sunspot activity which interrupted radio communication here on Earth.
  • We’ve been in Costa Rica for over 25 years and own the B&B, Chalet Nicholas, located in Nuevo Arenal.
  • Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Nuevo Arenal:
    • 2015 – 208.34 inches, setting a new record!
    • 2014 – 184.95 inches
    • 2013 – 164.75 inches

Lance M’s Central Pacific Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • Well, May did not start out dry like the last 2 years. On the first 2 days, we received 5.5 inches of rain and wound up with 18.5 inches total. The ground absorbed all of it and the grass began to grow like weeds. I have had the grass cut twice in the month. Hope it slows down.
  • The high season is winding down and our sleepy little town is starting to get back to normal. The big news is the one lane bridge into town was closed and is being replaced by a new two lane bridge, but in Costa Rican fashion, it well take about a year to complete, barring the money doesn’t run out.
  • Our Landlord has been working on improvements around the property, and has built a carport for us to keep us dry while unloading our car, and he is now working on a new driveway.
  • Map_Quepos_SanIsidroTotal rainfall for the last 2 years in our area:
    • 2015 – 130.3″ / 330.96 cm
    • 2014 – 73.5″ (as of February 2014 when I started measuring it for this newsletter).

Gordon’s Villa Nueva (San Isidro de El General) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • April was another great weather month for San Isidro de El General, with an average low of 72.3°F / 22.4°C and an average high of 82.5°F / 29.5°C.
  • The coolest morning was 70°F / 21°C and the warmest day was 88°F / 31°C.
  • We had 19 days with a measurable amount of rain. The most in one day was 1.8″ / 4.6 cm, for a monthy total of 11″ / 27.9 cm.  There were 6 days with no rain at all and 6 days with a trace of rain (less than .1). It sure is nice to see all the countryside green again!
  • My wife’s knee that had the stem cell transplant done is doing very well.  We were back at the doctor’s office for a 3 week check up and he was surprised to see the speed of her walk, (with a cane), and pleased with the fact that she had no pain. (Never did!).  He wants her to keep using the cane for June, then we go back for a final “blessing” on July 5.
  • We are taking a 2 week river cruise in Europe down the Rhine river, (it’s our 30th anniversary). We are thankful she is able to walk pain free, as there are lots of side excursions we want to take.

Steve’s San Rafael de Heredia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d be writing about volcanoes in a weather column, but we happen to live downwind from a volcano that has awakened from its slumbers after centuries of inactivity. And, during the past month, the ash fall has been one of the most significant meteorological factors in our neighborhood. So there you have it. Heredia-Map
  • On May 11 Turrialba Volcano cleared her throat and sent clouds of ash several thousand feet into the air, and continued to do so for the remainder of the month. For the first two weeks, the winds were blowing the ash in our direction (we live 18 miles away) and it was not raining, so each day we received a dusting. How serious was it? Well, I’d say if I’d measured it, total accumulation might have come to a 32nd of an inch. Nothing to scream and shout about. Eventually the winds died down and the rains started up again, so life has returned to normal.
  • The ash fall was so light, it was difficult to see, but it seemed very hazy over San Jose to the south of us, where the ash was a little heavier. I’d never experienced volcanic ash first hand. We had to sweep it off our veranda every morning. Dust might be a better word for it. It is black, and gritty like sand, but much finer, maybe like silt. Despite hype in the social media, it is not toxic, but can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation (it gave me a sore throat, which then developed into a full-blown head cold). During the 1963-64 eruption of Irazú, many people in San Jose suffered from serious respiratory problems, which in some cases were fatal. My wife knows because one of her brothers died from respiratory complications during that period. To put things in perspective, the ash fall from that eruption was more than this one by a factor of about a thousand. The recent eruptions have had an economic effect in San Rafael though – the car wash places are doing a booming business.
  • The heavy rains in April got us expecting more of the same in May, but after a downpour at the beginning of the month, the rain fizzled. The water company even began rationing. They cut the water off at about seven in the morning and it didn’t come back till seven at night. Incidentally, I saw an article in La Nación stating that 47-67% of drinking water is lost through leaks in pipes. So there is no water shortage, only a poorly maintained infrastructure. The rains did start up again late in the month and even brought us back to a normal reading of 12.5 inches.
  • Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Heredia:
    • 2015 – 144.9 inches
    • 2014 – 115.1 inches
    • 2013 – 111.3 inches

Bonnie’s Tinamastes, Perez Zeledon Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • After almost a year in the coffee mountains of San Marcos de Tarrazu, Joe, Marley, and I moved to Tinamastes which is in the Southern Zone, about 20 minutes up the mountain from Dominical and 30 minutes west of San Isidro de el General. We were drawn to Tinamastes because of its temperate climate as well as its proximity to the beach and to Feria Organica Tinamastes, our weekly organic farmer’s market.  It took a lot to get us to move from San Marcos as there is a lot to love about Los Santos, but we found a place with a beautiful ocean view that is only a five minute walk to the feria, so off we went!
  • TinamasteMap


    We love walking to the feria on Tuesdays to buy fresh, organic produce, freshly baked bread, and a variety of other items and to mingle with the friends we’ve been making there. We used to drive 40 minutes each way to “shop” at our friend, Tony’s, organic farm near Copey about once a month.  Now we can buy from him every Tuesday, and consequently, a much larger portion of the food we eat now is organically grown.

  • We miss having only a five minute walk to the center of San Marcos to buy groceries and run errands as well as our daily interactions with the vibrant Tico community there. We have also come to appreciate the quality infrastructure that we had in San Marcos, especially living five minutes away from a very clean, well-staffed, and relatively efficient Ebais with 24×7 urgent care services, having water and electricity to our home that were reliably available, and sidewalks! We were able to walk on a sidewalk for a couple of km either direction from our house in San Marcos, but here, we have to walk in the grass next to the highway and sometimes even on the highway itself to walk to a grocery store, feria, or café.  And on the rare occasions when the water was shut off in San Marcos, a truck with a loudspeaker came around in advance to let everyone know the times that it would be off, usually with enough warning to take a shower, wash the dishes, or do a load of laundry.
  • We are adjusting to our more rural lifestyle, and we appreciate having the nice-sized city of San Isidro de el General just 30 minutes away. We’re beginning to find our way around San Isidro, and we’ve been able to find most of what we need there.  We have not felt a need to go to Cartago or San Jose for anything since we moved here.  We do miss being able to buy high-quality dog food at a reasonable price and a few other favorite items from PriceSmart, but we find that it’s less expensive to buy dog food from a veterinarian in San Isidro than to drive to the San Jose area to buy it.  Still, we may venture down to David, Panama, sometime to explore a new area and stock up on dog food at PriceSmart.
  • Our temperatures here rarely venture outside of the low to high 70’s vs. the wide range of temperatures that we experienced in San Marcos. The tradeoff has been much higher humidity and all that comes with that.  The biggest positive for me has been that the arthritis that had been keeping me awake many nights in San Marcos has disappeared here, either because the barometric pressure is higher or the nights are warmer.  Whatever the reason, I’m very grateful for the pain-free nights of sleep.
  • We love being able to take day trips to the beach and have now done that several times, checking out beaches in Dominical, Dominicalito, Matapalo, Uvita, and Manuel Antonio. We love the spontaneity of going to the beach now without all of the expense and work it took to find pet-friendly lodging and the long drives to get there and back.  And we especially love coming back home in the afternoon and enjoying the cool breeze and view of the ocean from our outdoor living room.

Irina’s El Cajón de Grecia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • ElCajonDeGreciaMapWe all knew that it rained a lot in May — in fact, it rained more this year than during the same month the previous three years.
  • We measured:
    • 374.9 mm (14.76″) in 2013,
    • 333.5 mm (13.13″) in 2014 and,
    • only 253.9 mm (10″) last year.
    • This year’s rainfall, measured at 486.2 mm (19.14″), is almost twice as much as last year.
  • However, we found the average high temperatures slightly higher in May, which came in at 27.8°C / 82.0°F. In 2013, the average high was 27.0°C / 80.6°F; in 2014, it was 26.7°C / 80.1°F, and last year it was 27.3°C / 81.1°F, while the average low temperature came in about the same as the previous three years, with the exception of 2013, when we measured an average low of 19.6°C / 67.3°F.
  • May 17th was a very unusual day. We had simultaneously over one inch of rain AND the highest temperature of the month, 31.3°C / 88.3°F. Some folks think that it must be colder when it rains a lot, but May 17 proved otherwise.
  • Right after the first aguacero (downpour) in May, the hills across our canyon turned white with millions of very fragrant coffee flowers. It’s Costa Rica snow, they say.
  • Coffee plants are self-pollinating but need the rain to produce the flowers, which fall off after a day or two, leaving tiny green “baby” coffee beans. The green beans turn yellow and orange, then red and fully ripen by November, the beginning of the coffee harvest, which stretches over 4 months.
  •  2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)

Here’s another poem that Jim (my husband) wrote:

Morning coffee

One full week
afternoon aguaceros.

Ridge patch and row
tumesce and emerald
coffee trees plume
faeried in virgin
perfume of bloom
sweet cream the air.

Parakeet fleck
parrots blue.

Mike’s Grand View Estates (Siquirres) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • SiquirresMapMay’s weather at Grand View can broken into two parts. The weather up until May 13 was hot and dry. It was so dry that the local river, which is the source of our drinking water, dried up and we were without water for 1 day. The locals said that this had never happened previously. Thankfully, the weather pattern changed, and we began to transition into our mid-year rainy season. The rest of the month saw alternating days with some rain and no rain. Temperatures were also cooler. The average high for the first 12 days was 32.8°C / 91.0°F; the average high for the final 19 days was 31.4°C / 88.5°F.
  •  The mid-year rainy season in the Caribbean is a nice time of year. It is typically sunny in the morning, then the clouds build up and we’ll get an afternoon or evening thunderstorm. We haven’t had any of the thunderclaps that shake the whole house from the sonic boom, but they will come as we get into the peak of the season this month and next.
  •  If we try to make a conclusion based upon only 3 data points, last year was atypical because of El Niño. May’s rainfall this year was similar to that recorded in 2014 (74% of the 2014 rainfall).
  • The Pacuare River, reputed to be one of the world’s best white-water rafting rivers, is only 15 minutes from our home. The river is running nice and high, and fast. We had guests last week who took in the adventure, and they returned excited from the experience. Their photos were awesome!
  • Turrialba Volcano - 2 June 2016

    Turrialba Volcano – 2 June 2016

    On a totally different note, I happened to be out walking with our dogs early in the morning of June 2 when Turrialba Volcano started to erupt. Here’s a photo I took.

  • Total rainfall for the last 2 years in our area of Grand View Estates:
    • 2015 – 305.7 inches
    • 2014 – 208.2 inches (May through December)

Juan Miguel’s Volio de Cachí Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • Our days of rain DOUBLED this month!map-Cachi
  • Despite the increase number of rain days and the increase in total amount of rain, the highest daytime humidity recorded was down to 86%.  That’s because it was mostly overnight rainfalls or they occurred very late in the day, usually about 5 pm.  I know because that’s when I go to do the evening milking and, several times, I went down to the barn dry but came back to the house wet!
  • Our average overnight humidity was up to 96%  this month and the average daytime humidity was 55%.  Daytime low humidity was 43% and daytime high was 86%.
  • Finca Update
    • We had a surprise hatching of ducks.  We already had 8 little ones swimming around, but on the last day of the month, there was suddenly a clutch of 12 more.
    • The guineas are growing fast and I’m working to keep them very tame.  Since these two were “new guineas” to the finca, I named them Papua and Indonesia—get it?GuineaHens
    • Also, with both goats milking now, we’re getting over 6 liters a day; so there’s been lots of cheesemaking going on.
  • Our little country, mountain village may only have a population of 3000, but they put on quite the “Festival Cultural.”  Over a span of a week we had several guest orchestras, bands, dramas, modern dance, poetry readings, story-telling, a guitar quintet, a violin camerata,  and a cultural lecture series.

Tim’s Escazú Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • The rainy season has set in, with afternoon showers being predominant close to the end of the month.  A couple of nice good old rain storms too!EscazuMap
  • If you are in the market for insurance — automotive, homeowners, liability or medical — contact us at Garrett Brokers, a family owned business that has serviced the expat community for more than 35 years.
  • Escazú County is one of 20 counties that make up the San Jose Metropolitan Area. It is west of the downtown San Jose area, with the Escazú mountains as its backdrop.

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