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

You’ll notice that we now show rainfall and temperatures for eleven towns in Costa Rica. You can read the entire January 2016 Costa Rica Weather Report at this link.

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

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

  • Five days of the month had the highest high of 76°F, so it was a cooler month overall. Our coldest night of the month, it got down to 55°F at our house, at 3000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes from downtown San Ramon. It will start warming up in February as the sun moves north from the Tropic of Capricorn, arriving at the equator on March 21st.
  • ReaHouseThe owners of our incredible rental house were here for 2 weeks in February to prepare the house for sale. If you are interested, please contact us as it’s officially on the market. Once it’s sold, we hope to move into a rental in downtown San Ramon.
  • Gloria and I were invited to the International Living Conference in New Orleans in April. This will be our 11th IL conference. When people come to our table, we tell it like it is, the “good, the bad, and the ugly” about overseas retirement.
  • To take advantage of the free (to us) airfare, we plan to stay an extra few days to explore New Orleans and enjoy lots of creole/cajun cooking. Gloria is especially  looking forward to introducing me to beignets at Cafe du Monde and muffulettas from the Central Grocery.
  • Just to let you know, we walk the walk on about $2000 per month, and have been for the last 7 years.
  • We say this all the time, “We can’t believe our lives, this exciting, rich, rewarding, fun life we live. So thank you one and all for reading RFLCR!costa-rica-map_cropped4
  • Total 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 January:

  • The weather in January was almost the same as last year but with marginally cooler (i.e. fraction of a degree) daytime high and overnight low temperature averages.
  • Most days were completely clear, some days were partly cloudy, and there was absolutely no rain. However, only a few miles away towards the north/northwest there is ridge separating the Atenas region from the San Ramon region. It runs along at an upper elevation of about 3500 to 4500 feet and was often shrouded in fog at sunrise and for a couple of hours thereafter.
  • This is coffee growing territory and is undoubtedly quite cool and chilly in the early mornings.
  • 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 January:

  • We had an average January, weather-wise, and took advantage of it by taking our daily hike through the forest behind our house with our Great Danes.
  • Our Great Dane “puppy,” Mancuso, turned one year old on January 30th and we celebrated with lots of hamburgers. We saved the largest burger for Mancuso, put a candle on it, and blew it out for him.


Mancuso’s “Burger Cake”

  • 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 January:

  • Lance and his wife were traveling for most of the months of December and January. Lance will resume his weather reports for the month of February.
  • 2015 rainfall in our area was 130.3 inches through the end of November.
  • Map_Quepos_SanIsidro2014 rainfall for the Quepos area of the Central Pacific was 73.54 inches (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 January:

  • We had no rain at all for the month….things sure are getting dry! Lot’s of dust when you are off the
    pavement – great for the car wash business!
  • We now have completed furnishing our house. In November we had ordered a loveseat from Ashley Furniture, and that was delivered the first week of January. We had a couple of bar stools made for us, and a week ago we took a road trip to Sarchi and got a couple of nice rocking chairs. Sarchi is a town NW of San Jose that is known for it’s hand crafted furniture, (and it made a great
    road trip with a couple of friends!)
  • We have been looking for gravity chairs ever since we moved to Costa Rica over a year ago, and a recent trip to Price Smart in San Jose (Costco) ended our searching!
  • So now we can really stretch out and enjoy this beautiful country! Yup, …… retired life in Costa Rica is pretty darn good!

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

  • Heredia-MapJanuary and the Trade Winds – The Trade Winds and the corresponding rainfall dropped off dramatically this January as compared to last. We had what I’d call nine windy days this January, compared to 18 windy days last January. This January, 1.1 inches of rain; last January, a record-breaking 8.3. Temperatures were about one degree warmer than usual. Looks like we’re in for a severe dry season. For once I’m in agreement with the weatherman. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to the sales person at Zacates Agrícola Leo near the airport in Alajuela and boasting about the rain we got in the dry season and the fact that our grass was green all year except for the month of April. No sooner had I said this than the rains petered out and our grass turned yellow. Oops! Now the water pressure is dropping. We could have a water emergency before we know it.
  • Trees – I’m in the process of populating our property with trees. For the first couple of years, I water the trees about three times a month during the dry season. After two years I figure their root systems are extensive and deep enough to handle the drought.
  • Water & Power – We use lots of water, almost all of it for the garden and pond. Although we use a lot, we also try to conserve as much as possible. The local utility company charges us only a fraction for water of what we were charged in South Carolina. For electricity, on the other hand, the rate is 60% higher. A year and a half ago we installed solar panels that produce 85% of our power. The price of installing solar electric generating systems has been dropping steadily over the years. In the 1970s I looked into it and went into sticker-shock — the cost of a system would have been more than what we paid for the house. Ten years ago I looked into it again and it would have cost us $25,000. The system we got here cost us about $6,600.  My neighbors say this is enormously expensive. From my perspective, it’s enormously cheap. I have seven rainwater storage tanks with total capacity of about 5,000 gallons. Only two months into the dry season and I’ve already used all the water and am beginning to refill the tanks with water from the utility company. I’m doing this in the event the public system goes dry in March or April (maybe even sooner this year). I could easily use another 5,000 gallons of tankage. It rains enough here in a year to fill the tanks many times over. When I first installed the tanks I had a problem with mosquito infestation. I’ve gradually learned how to keep them from breeding in the tanks and can now boast we are 100% mosquito-free. With the Zika virus in the news, it’s comforting to know we have mosquitoes under control.
  • Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Heredia:
    • 2015 – 144.9
    • 2014 – 115.1
    • 2013 – 111.3

Bonnie’s  San Marcos de Tarrazu Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for January:

  • SanMarcosDeTarrazuMapOur temperatures have spanned a wide range as they did in December, but it continues to feel very comfortable here in San Marcos.
  • We’ve had no rain since January 7 and find ourselves missing it.
  • The last few days have been very windy, and we don’t think we’re going to miss that!
  • 2015 rainfall total is 37.9 inches for the months of August through December.
  • We will be moving soon and will continue our weather reporting from our new location in May.

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

  • ElCajonDeGreciaMapJanuary was full of extremes and record high/low temperatures. The low ones were mostly related to the winds, which picked up strength in January, a month after the typical “December winds.” Seems like the past 3 months shifted to a later date compared to normal.
  • November and December showed numbers usually associated with October/November. This continued into 2016 – “typical” December weather occurred in January. The numbers for February are not yet in, of course.
  • We measured the lowest night temperature ever since moving here over three years ago: 14.6 °C (58.3°F) on January 24th, which also had the lowest high of 22.4°C (72.3°F) — a very cold day in Costa Rica.
  • But on the other hand, we also measured near 30°C (86.0°F) twice — 29.7°C (85.5°F) on the 8th and again 29.3°C (84.7°F) on the 20th — both much hotter than “usual.”
  • The winds dried the ground out very much, so we had to start watering, being very careful to adhere to water-saving and conservation methods. Many of our plants are drought-tolerant, but a recent garden re-design of a completed construction site made some watering necessary for the plants to establish. We prefer spot-watering with a bucket when we can clearly see which plant needs watering. It lets us observe each individual plant, making sure it is planted where it’s happy and thriving.
  • We’ve included measuring the humidity on our property — amazingly, although it’s the “dry” season, about one third of January measured the overnight humidity in the upper 80’s to 99% range.
  • 2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)

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

  • SiquirresMapJanuary ended with a day as close to being cloudless as we ever get in the Caribe. Despite the clear skies the temperature never reached 30°C. In fact, we never hit 30°C (86.0°F) all month! One day someone must have left the freezer door open, because we had a chilly high that day of only 22.8°C (83.8°F) (the nighttime low was 20.2°C (68.4°F), so not much variation that day!). That was a real anomaly, and occurred the day following our day with the heaviest rainfall. Excluding that one day, our average daily high was 28.8°C (83.9°F) . The temperature dipped below 20°C 9 (68.0°F) nights during January.
  • We had no rainfall at all for half the month, plus another 10 days with just a trace of the wet stuff. Total rainfall amounted to 7.6 inches in January, much of which fell on the day mentioned above. This was a far cry from last year, when we recorded 26.5 inches for the month. This was the 5th straight month when we’ve recorded less rain than the previous year. I think that we have returned to a more normal weather pattern after the El Nino disruption. The rainfall map that headlines this newsletter shows that we should expect 80-120 inches of rain (2-3m) annually. If January’s rainfall pattern holds up, we are on track to be in that range over the year.
  • On a 12-month moving average basis, we recorded 9m (28.2 ft) of rain between 1 Sept 2014 and 31 Aug 2015!
  • Readers might be interested in how we keep in touch with the world. I still run a business in Canada, so Internet and phone are vital. We are too far off the main road for cable and landline telephone service. The developer of Grand View Estates installed a fiber optic system to a central location, then beams a wireless signal to the houses in the development. This gives us 5 mbps Internet at a cost of $100/mo. I use Magic Jack for telephone, with a Canadian phone number so clients can call a local number to reach me here in Costa Rica. We use cellphones for local telephone service.
  • For TV, we have subscribed to SKY satellite TV at $32/mo. SKY has a lot of English-language programming. Canadians might be particularly interested to know that we can watch NHL hockey on SKY every night! The first night that we had the system, I watched a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. As if that isn’t enough, we also subscribe to an Internet-based TV service called USTVNow at $39/mo. This gives us programming out of Harrisburg, PA. We use ROKU as our interface between the house Wi-Fi and our main-screen TV. We subscribe to Netflix, but don’t use it very much. Unfortunately, the agreement between ROKU and Netflix doesn’t cover Costa Rica, so we have to use our laptop as the interface.
  • Total rainfall for the last 2 years in our area of Grand View Estates:
    • 2015 – 305.7 inches
    • 2014 – 208.2 inches (March through December)

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

  • map-CachiBecause we live smack-dab in the middle of CR, our weather is affected by both the Pacific and Caribbean influences.  As a result we get some rain even in the dry season.
  • We’re at 3800 feet elevation but in a river basin, so our weather is very different from friends’ who live only 2.5 miles away at 5000 feet on top of a ridge.
  • This January is much more on par with the usual.  Last year, we never really had a dry season and January had rain almost everyday.
  • While we had 10 days of measurable rain this month, it mostly occurred overnight or late in the day, leaving us with beautiful days. However, we did had 4 foggy mornings with “pelo de gato” all day (that’s the Tico expression for the fine mist that falls.  It means “hair of the cat.”)
  • Our average overnight humidity was 80% and the average daytime humidity was 61%  Daytime low humidity was 40% and daytime high was 80%.
  • Both Volcan Irazú and Volcan Turrialba are loom large here.  Turrialba has been much less active this past month.
  • While like all across the country, we feel minor earthquakes that originate from farther away, this month we had two quakes with epicenters only about 3-5 Km away.  That same 3.7 magnitude feels pretty different when it occurs right next door!

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

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