REPUBLIC OF COSTA RICA


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GENERAL INFORMATIONS: Climate

Climate

Costa Ricais situated in equatorial very humid climatic zone, and in mountains dominates equatorial humid climate. On its territory it posesses at least 12 climatic zones. In 1994 The National Geographic ranked Costa Rica`s Atenas village as the place with the most perfect climate in the world. Thanks to the moderate climatic conditions in the interior of Costa Rica it`s called the "country of the eternal spring". In the years 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 the weather in Costa Rica was influenced by El Nino.


Rains

In Costa Rica it happens that through 15 days in a row, the amount of rainfalls can include 70 % of all rainfalls of year. Atlantic side of the country gets the most rains in term between December and January. The pacific side through five monthes (since December to April) is almost in lack of them. Generally, in rain season the biggest number of rains is recorded in monthes from September to November, and the smallest number is observed in June, July and August. (This term of 90 days is called the "small summer"). Because the tradewinds continuously blow Caribbean storms over the country, it rains almost twice as much on the Atlantic side of these mountains as on the Pacific side.

The avarage year value of rains for the entire country is 2.500 mm. Generally, the biggest amount of rains get terrains situated on altidudes around 1.200 m.a.s.l. The biggest amount of rainfalls (both during days and years) get areas around Orosi Volcano and Tapanti National Park. The biggest number of rainy days in year (315 days) receive valleys of rivers Macho, Grande de Orosi and Pejivalle. The lowlands in Alajuela province close to the Nicaraguan border are said to get the rains 13 monthes per year. The most rainy year in Costa Rica was 1968 (359 days of that was recorded as rainy).

The lowest rainfalls in Costa Rica are in vicinity of Cartago, mouth of Tempsique River, Palo Verde National Park, the western tip of Santa Elena peninsula nad pacific beach Ocotal. The driest Guanacaste province doesn`t get rains from November to April. Soft, local rains occured also (even in driest days) inside of rain forests. Its because of condensation of water steam on cool leaves.

Typical for rainy season morning rains are called temporales. Torrential rains are called aguaceros. Occuring in March the Papagayo breeze that come from Pacific Ocean to the land and brings the rains called "the rains of coffee plantators". The mid December rains are known as "tears of Mary".


Length of the day

Because of the geographical position, the lenght of the day and night is almost equal. During the day it waves a little (about an hour). The sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m.


Season of the year

In Costa Rica there are two well defined seasons: dry and rainy. The first lasts from December to April (locally called verano-summer). The second one falls on monthes from May to November (invierno-winter, or the green season). Meteorologists define also so called "small summer", when in July and August rains occure more seldom than the other monthes in the rainy season.

During the dry season, on the hills are recorded only from two to three rainy days per month. During almost whole period the sky is clear and starry. In Guanacaste the dry season lasts usually a little longer. On the atlantic coast it lasts from January to April. A typical rainy-season day is sunny all morning, clouding up around noon, with downpours in the afternoon and evening.


Temperatures

In large extent temperatures in Costa Rica depend on position and altitude above sea level. The hottest monthes in the year are March, April and May. The coldest ones: December, January and February (it`s due cold winters from the north). The avarage temperatures for Meseta central is 22 C. Temperatures of the coasts are as a general 10 C higher than in the centre of country and they oscilate between 28-37 C (but the highest are recorded on Pacific Coast).

The most extreme daily fluctuations occur during dry season, when clear skies at nights allow maximum heat loss through radiation. In the wet season, nights are generally warmer, as the heat built up during the day is trapped by clouds.

On the highest peaks and volcanoes temperature may drop down to freezing point. (The lowest ever recorded temperature was -9 C in Chirripo Grande). In Costa Rica history there were recorded even a few examples of freezing to death of travellers during their ways through the peak of Cerro Muerte.


Winds

There is a pasat circulation connected with constant Azore high-pressure area and equatorial low pressure zone. The climate of Costa Rica is formed by masses of warm and moist air brought by eastern trade wind from the Atlantic, and by local temporary winds occuring in pacific side. The moist and warm trade-winds loose their moisture after crossing the Cordilleras barriel and descends for Pacific side as dry winds. Their movement is blocked only by the highest Costa Rica range - Cordillera Talamanca.

Cool polar winds bearing down from northern latitudes lower temperatures during December, January and February. (It`s one of the few places in the world where polar air travels so close to the Equator). On March occurs so called Papagayo breeze. It come from Pacific Ocean to the land and brings the rains called "the rains of coffee plantators".

A vital influence on climate have also tropical tornados. They can occur at any time and 20 % of them come from August to October. The center of low pressure, that has been created due to the tornados on Atlantic side, cause the drawing of winds from pacific side that make even two days-long. Nevertheless on the Atlantic coast hurricanes are not something to be worry about. During the last 100 years, only one hurricane Martha, which rushed ashore on November 21th of 1969 has hit this coast. In 1988 Limon was evacuated because of the precipitation of danger hurricane Juana (but it changed its way).

In July 1996 the Casar hurricane ripped the Pacific southwest causing $100 million in damage. It made floodings and big disasters. The Panamerican Highway was closed for about two monthes.

In November 2001 the hurricane Michelle hit Central America. In Costa Rica 400 people were evacuated after rapidly rising rivers burst their banks and flooded parts of the Pacific coastal region.

The Nacional Institut of Meteorology predicts that the season of hurricanes will be smaller in 2002. There will be 8 hurricanes of which 4 would reach cathegory 3, 4 and 5.


 
2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski