Panama has a tropical maritime climate with a hot, humid, rainy season (May through to December) and a short dry season (January through to May). Geographically Panama is a narrow country from north to south. This results in competing weather patterns coming onshore from both the Caribbean ocean and the Pacific.
Panama is completely outside the hurricane belt and experiences few if any natural disasters except for earthquakes. Panama has several earthquakes each year but less than a handful are felt.
Even with two distinct seasons, temperatures in Panama rarely change more than 20 degrees no matter what elevation you are at.
Summer lasts roughly from December to April. In May, the rains start gradually with frequent showers (most lasting no more than an hour or two) in the afternoons. By July or August, you can count on daily downpours resulting from thunderstorms, especially along the mountain ranges. Often these thunderstorms will result in flash flooding along rivers and roads. So, pay attention to thunderstorms that are building up.
You will find many microclimates throughout Panama especially in the mountainous areas. As trade winds blow weather across Panama the effects are dramatically different depending on the geography surrounding you. Recorded rainfall amounts can be drastically different within areas only blocks from each other.
Though some afternoons can be muggy, hours or days of continuous rain is rare…especially in Panama City and the Pacific coast area known as the Arco Seco, or dry arc.
Bocas del Toro and other locations on Panama’s less-developed Caribbean Coast receive twice as much rain as the Pacific Coast as strong trade winds constantly blow from north to south. Although outside of the hurricane belt, the Caribbean Coast, gets the leftovers of the tropical storms further north.
Although the official rainy season is December through April, the rest of the year may bring frequent rain, too. This is especially true in higher elevations and along the Caribbean coastline.
You might like the highlands if hot, steamy weather bothers you. They have a more tropical climate, so cool, Bajareque (misty showers) are common during the rainy season and sometimes during the dry season as well. After all, you can’t have rainforests and cloud forests without rain and clouds.
The highlands do experience higher than average winds during the dry season and high humidity levels during the rainy season. The lowland areas on the Pacific side experience less wind and humidity.
The wetness and humidity tends to bother some people in the mountains, even in Boquete, which gets its fair share of downpours from May to November. Without the high day-time temperatures that the lowlands experience, areas in the mountains don’t have extended periods to dry out.
Many people love the fact that Panama’s climate is better for their skin, keeping it moisturized and smooth-looking, rather than dry and papery. The health benefit of cleansing rains make it possible for everyone in Panama to breath fresh clean air and feel great!