Mexico has diverse climate types that range from arid and semi-arid in the north to humid and subtropical in the south. Much of the north exhibit desert (Köppen climate classification BWh, BWk) and semi-arid (Köppen BSh, BSk) climate. The southern coasts display tropical types (Köppen Af, Am, Aw), but turn into humid subtropical (Cfa, Cfb) in the southern interior regions. The extreme northwest and parts of the central region have a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa, Csb). Mexico lies in North America and has a large border with the United States in the north. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west and south, the Gulf of Mexico to the east, and the Caribbean Sea in the southeast. The subtropical latitudes and proximity to large water bodies mainly influence the climate.
The Tropic of Cancer divides Mexico into temperate and tropical zones. Temperatures gradually increase from north to south, except for the deserts of the north. The coastline consists of the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. The Sierra Madres are two mountain ranges that run north-south and are an extension of the Rocky Mountains. The Sierra Nevada runs east to west in the central part of Mexico. The mountain ranges receive moderate precipitation, but the tropical southern coasts receive abundant rainfall. The Panuco, Grijalva, Papaloapan, Usumacinta, and Coatzacoalcos are five major rivers that flow eastwards into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The west coast and north-central regions of Mexico are generally arid and semi-arid. Pico de Orizaba is the highest peak in Mexico at 5700 meters.
Mexico has hot summers and mild winters. Spring and autumn are short periods of mild temperatures. Late spring is prone to pre-monsoon showers. Autumn is at the receiving end of hurricanes, and post-monsoon rains. Summers are extremely hot in the Sonoran Desert in the northwest and the Yuma Desert in the northeast. Temperatures in the deserts reach an average high of 42.2°C (108°F) at the peak of summer. Mexico City, on the southern part of the central plateau, has comfortable summers and mild winters. The Yucatan Peninsula has high temperatures throughout the year, with hardly a -12.2°C (10°F) difference between mean temperatures in summer and winter. The coastal areas of Baja California in the north are temperate. The southern coasts are hot and humid in the summer. The high peaks of the Sierra Madres receive snowfall in the winter. Cold waves from the United States blow southwards to the north-central interior regions of Mexico. Temperatures above 4000 meters in the high mountains of the south-central region remain cold in the summer but are freezing in the winter.
The subtropical location of Mexico is the reason for the abundant sunshine in the country. The annual sunshine ranges from 2700 hours to 3500 hours, with the highest numbers in the northern deserts and the southern half. The annual rainfall ranges between a scanty 101.6mm (4") to 254mm (10") in the Baja California deserts and 1016mm (40") to 1524mm (60") along the Pacific coast and Yucatan Peninsula. Much of Mexico receives more than eighty percent of annual precipitation in the rainy season from June to September. The relative humidity peaks in July and August at the peak of the rainy season.
San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, recorded the highest ever temperature of 52.5°C (126.5°F), on June 15, 1966, in Mexico. The coldest recorded temperature of -29°C (-20.2°F) occurred in Los Lamentos, Chihuahua, on January 11, 1962.
The best time to visit Mexico
The best time to visit Mexico is in the moderate seasons of spring and autumn. March to April in the spring is mild and dry in the northern regions. September to October is mild but relatively wet in the south. The northern coast of Baja California is ideal for sunbathing in late spring and early summer. The general idea is to avoid the hot and humid rainy season that brings monsoon rains to the country. The southern regions have pleasant winters so that December to February is much favorable in the absence of rain and severe cold. The seawaters in Acapulco are warm even in January, which makes it a popular tourist destination during Christmas and New Year.
The worst time to visit Mexico
The worst time to visit Mexico is during the summer season. Summer is hot, and the monsoon brings mugginess in the atmosphere. May is the peak of the summer and brings extreme temperatures in Mexico. The Sonoran Desert sees temperatures above 48.9°C (120°F) during the day. Peak temperatures often surpass the 37.8°C (100°F) mark in the arid northwest and the south. June to August is the period of the rainy season that brings heat, humidity, and wet conditions. The coasts see particularly heavy precipitation, and it is a time to avoid the beaches with cloudy conditions. Thunderstorms are active during the summer, and the coast is prone to hurricanes and cyclones.
Mexico is vulnerable to wildfires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanoes, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and cyclones in summer and autumn. The arid northwest is prone to droughts in the hot summer. The proximity to the Gulf of Mexico is a risk factor to the eastern coast of Mexico for tropical cyclones. The western coast is similarly prone to storms from the North Pacific Ocean. Cyclones often bring heavy rainfall that causes catastrophic floods. Hurricane Wilma brought a Western Hemisphere record 1633.2mm (64.3") of rainfall in 24 hours on October 21, 2005. Hurricane Patricia, the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide in terms of wind speed, occurred on October 23, 2015. Mexico is one of the most seismically active regions on earth, with a history of large magnitude earthquakes. The San Andreas Fault, which extends from California to Mexico in the south, is the cause of frequent seismic disturbances.
Weather in January
January is generally the coldest month of the year in Mexico, with little rain amid clear skies. Rainfall is negligible everywhere except for the Yucatan Peninsula, where it is moderate. Snowfall occurs only on the high slopes of the mountains. Nights are cold in the arid northern regions Central Mexico sees average temperatures in the 2.8°C (37°F) to 26.1°C (79°F) range, with the capital, Mexico City, between a cold 2.8°C (37°F) to warm 21.1°C (70°F). The southern Pacific coast, as well as the Yucatan Peninsula, offer mild winters, with average temperatures in the range of 10°C (50°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F). The sunshine is abundant, with even the coldest regions registering more than a daily 6 hours in January. The outdoor environment is not severely cold, but the winter is a chance to grab a blanket, enjoy a hot and delicious Mexican soup, and be cozy indoors. The New Year has comfortable weather, but it is prudent to pack warm clothes for a trip to Mexico in January.
Weather in February
February is mild in the winter of Mexico as the cold winds still hold sway over the northern part of the country. The average low temperatures in the north and central regions are between 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 11.1°C (52°F), with at least 7 hours of daily sunshine. The south is relatively warm, with average high temperatures between 21.1°C (70°F) to 29.4°C (84.9°F). Acapulco is popular for a beach holiday, with seawater temperatures above 27.8°C (82°F) amid warm and sunny days. Scuba diving and swimming are popular activities on the beach and the reef. Bring waterproof shoes if snorkeling is a planned activity in the reef. Trekkers find the cool days refreshing to explore the mountains. Pack warm clothes, hats, and gloves, if exploring the mountains or the desert areas in the north. Expect occasional chilly nights in the north. Warm jackets are sufficient for the rest of the country for the nights. February is a shoulder season month with fewer crowds in most regions of Mexico.
Weather in March
March is the beginning of the short and dry spring season in Mexico. The conditions are typically warm and sunny in the entire country. Temperatures in Cancun in the south usually range in the 21.1°C (70°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F), and the mild seawaters offer the joy of swimming. The tourist hotspot of Guadalajara, on the Pacific Coast, has moderate temperatures between 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 28.3°C (82.9°F). The spring equinox is a festive time in Mexico in the presence of locals and tourists alike. Cold waves occasionally penetrate the north, which results in nights below 4.4°C (39.9°F). Frost and fog are no more a concern as clear skies and sunny days are the norm. An increase in tourist footfalls is on the cards as any remaining cold goes away. Lush grasslands, forests, and hills fill with the aroma of blooming flowers, soil, and freshwater. A light jacket is usually sufficient for outdoor explorations in most regions. March is a wonderful time to visit Mexico in the absence of cold and rain.
Weather in April
April pushes the mercury column in Mexico, as the majority of the country receives abundant sunshine. Roaring waterfalls, flowing streams, and gushing rivers offer a relaxing natural habitat. The days are warm to hot, with at least 8 hours of daily sunshine. The average high temperatures across the country are in the 23.9°C (75°F) to 35°C (95°F) zone, with moderate temperatures along the coasts, the extreme northwest, and the high mountains. Durango in the north averages between a comfortable 7.8°C (46°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), while La Paz in Baja California is in the warm zone of 14.4°C (57.9°F) to 31.1°C (88°F). April is dry in much of Mexico, with only moderate rainfall in the Yucatan Peninsula. Activities such as fishing, biking, and kayaking gather momentum on the numerous lakes and rivers in the interior. Flat-bottom gondolas offer a mystic experience in the flower-scented canals of Mexico City. Sweatshirts and t-shirts are usually the order of the day, and the mild nights do not need layered clothing. April is a beautiful month to experience Mexico.
Weather in May
May is hot and sunny, with mostly clear skies in Mexico. Mexicali, in the Yuma Desert, registers average temperatures in the range of 17.2°C (63°F) to 35°C (95°F), with 12 hours of intense sunshine. Ciudad Juarez, in the Chihuahua Desert, has average highs above 32.2°C (90°F), and the days frequently register above 37.8°C (100°F). The second half of May brings pre-monsoon showers from south-central to southern parts of Mexico. San Cristobal de las Casas on the Pacific Coast receives up to 127mm (5") of precipitation. Thunderstorms occasionally occur in May, along with lightning and rain. The hot weather drives many tourists to the hill stations, where the temperatures are bearable. The coastal regions do not see extreme temperatures due to the proximity of the seawater. Beach visits are best during mornings and evenings due to the heat and the extended daylight hours. T-shirts, shorts, and sweatshirts are helpful in the hot days, as also are air-conditioners in hotels, homes, and offices. Late May is usually a time to avoid Mexico.
Weather in June
June is hot, humid, and wet in Mexico as the monsoon rains lash the country. The monsoon arrives from the south, which is rainier than the north. The Pacific Coast is the wettest region, with the monthly precipitation between 152.4mm (6") to 254mm (10"). Northern Mexico is hot, with average high temperatures in the 32.2°C (90°F) to 40.6°C (105.1°F) range. Mexico City offers cheap accommodations for budget travelers and moderate temperatures between 6.7°C (44.1°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F). Trekkers love to explore the south-central mountains but are often caught unaware by thunderstorms in the mountains. The skies are cloudy, and the conditions are muggy in the coastal areas, which receive maximum precipitation in the country. The shores of Cancun are favorite feeding spots for the whale sharks during their migration from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Sea in late June. Keep an eye on the weather for hurricanes and heavy rainfall warnings. The hurricane season begins in June, which makes brings an added element of risk on the coasts. June is a time to avoid Mexico for people unfamiliar with monsoon weather.
Weather in July
July is the wettest month of the year in Mexico, as the monsoon advances northward in the country. Veracruz, in the central region, registers a hefty 391.2mm (15.4") of rainfall. Acapulco, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and San Blas on the Pacific Coast, receive between 254mm (10") to 355.6mm (14") of precipitation. Day temperatures are often in the hot range of 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 42.8°C (109°F) across the country, with the lower part of the range occurring in the central region. Nights are humid in the 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) in much of the country. Camping, fishing, and hunting are favorite activities for people who do not mind the rain. Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist place that has a lovely sunset in the backdrop of the famous Sierra Madre Mountains. Zipline upside down from the mountains in the rain for a real outdoor challenge. Riviera Maya is a popular spot for tourists, with plenty of snorkeling and kayaking opportunities. July is challenging in Mexico weather-wise, except for the truly adventurous.
Weather in August
August is a hot and wet month in the rainy season in Mexico. The northern region is still in the grip of high temperatures in the 32.2°C (90°F) to 42.2°C (108°F) range, even though the monsoon brings more rain as it moves northward. Hermosillo in the Sonoran Desert has average temperatures between 32.2°C (90°F) to 42.2°C (108°F) and registers up to 99.1mm (3.9") of precipitation in August. The eastern and southern coastal areas receive plenty of rain, and the beaches see reduced footfalls. Discover tropical fish in the shallow waters of Los Cabos on the Pacific Coast when the crowds are fewer in August. Hurricanes and tropical cyclones are an occasional threat, more on the Gulf of Mexico side than the Pacific Coast. The wet season receives an average of 8 hours of daily sunshine, as the rainfall does not occur every day. Intense periods of rain are frequent, with several dry periods in between. Raincoats and umbrellas are necessary for outdoor explorations in Mexico in August.
Weather in September
September sees a gradual decrease in rainfall and temperatures in Mexico. The southern half is still susceptible to heavy showers, particularly on the coasts. The average high temperatures drop below 37.8°C (100°F) across the country except for a few arid places. Nights are between 12.8°C (55°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), with a sharp drop in humidity. The central mountains are delightful destinations for camping and backpacking tours as the precipitation slows down. The rainy season brings lush greenery to the countryside, riverbanks, valleys, and plateaus. National parks are busy due to the moderation in the heat, and wildlife sightings are abundant. The bright sunshine is more than adequate to explore the wild, watch birds and animals in natural habitats, or go for riding and hunting. Picture perfect beaches and warm turquoise seawaters are the reasons to consider Tulum down the Yucatan Peninsula in September. The coasts are partly cloudy, with higher humidity than the interior areas. September is a lovely month for a visit to Mexico.
Weather in October
October lies in the short autumn season in Mexico, with mild temperatures and generally pleasant weather. The average high temperatures drop from the peak of summer and remain mostly below 37.8°C (100°F). Nights are pleasant in the 10°C (50°F) to 22.2°C (72°F) range. October skies are partly cloudy, as the monsoon rains taper off in the entire country. The northern region receives scanty rainfall in the second half of October. The south is still wet and registers moderate rainfall, especially in the coastal areas. The northwest coastal region of Tijuana in Baja California is a popular tourist spot, with pleasant temperatures in the range of 10°C (50°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). The tropical nature of the country means autumn is not as colorful as continental America and Canada. The leaves turn colors in the high mountains, but the mild winters mean that trees retain leaves throughout the year. The harvest season brings many festivals to the land, with celebrations and a vibrant nightlife. October is perfect for a visit to the northern regions of Mexico.
Weather in November
November is a transitional month in Mexico as the short autumn season opens doors to the winter cold. The conditions are dry, the temperatures are moderate, and the lush greenery makes the atmosphere pleasant. Day temperatures between 21.1°C (70°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) and nights between 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) are great for visiting beaches, mountains, museums, city centers, or anything of interest. The end of the hurricane season is a bonus for sea lovers, with plenty of water activities, including swimming, surfing, sailing, and snorkeling packed in people's schedules. The warm afternoons offer plenty of sunshine but are opposite of the torrid sunlight of summer. The windy evenings and chilly nights in the north disclose the first signs of the mild Mexican winter. Light autumn clothing works best in November, although a jacket is useful in the cold regions. Enjoy delicious Mexican food, music, and dance in the long and bright evenings of the fall season. November is an excellent time to visit Mexico with pleasant weather and fewer crowds.
Weather in December
December begins the winter in Mexico, with dryness in the air, clear skies, and generally comfortable conditions. Rosarito on the coast, in peninsular Baja California, has average temperatures in the 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F) range. Tijuana receives 8 hours of daily sunshine, even in the winter. Much of the southern coasts are warm with mild seawaters so that a beach holiday is popular during Christmas time. The comfortable weather adds new zeal to the festivities. Occasional cold fronts may slip down to the south, but remain mostly confined to the northern regions. Afternoons are warm and bright and perfect for outings. Nights are cozy in the south, but occasionally chilly in the north. The abundant grape harvest is the primary reason behind the wine festivals in Valle de Guadalupe. Monarch butterflies migrate to the warm south of Mexico from the American mainland and settle in the forests. Ice skating rinks see plenty of action in Mexico City. December generally sees an increase in footfalls to the southern, warm regions in Mexico. [Resources]
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