What’s the weather like? That’s generally the first question folks ask when they’re looking for information about a new place. And yes, Belize has weather too! Let’s find out about it.
The Belize climate is classified as subtropical, which means that – contrary to tropical regions – it does have winter months with slightly cooler average temperatures than during the summer months.
November to January are the coolest months with average temperatures around 24°C (75°F), whilst May to September are the warmest, with average temperatures of 27°C (81°F).
What most people associate with subtropical is rain, and, alas, it rains in Belize as well. But the good news is, it’s often only raining for an hour or so and then it clears up! It’s generally not an all day rainfall, leaving everything soggy for weeks on end.
More good news is that it’s like watering your garden for an hour and then letting the sunshine take over…it keeps everything unbelievably green and vibrant. Of course the total volume and the length of time of the rainfall varies from place to place, depending on the geography of the land. Let’s look at that.
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Belize Climate: Regional Differences
Belize is the only country in Central America without a Pacific Ocean coastline or an Atlantic Ocean exposure. The Caribbean coastline is flat and swampy, with many cays, islands and a coral reef system second only in size to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Northeast trade winds off the Caribbean affect temperature and humidity as well.
The land rises as you progress inland to a low mountain range of some 3700 feet (1124 m) above sea level. The highest point is Doyle’s Delight, towering a full 13 feet or 4 meters above Victoria Peak, which was previously thought to be the highest point.
The effect of this geography on the climate is, in general terms, that it is hot and humid on the coast and generally more temperate in the hills, particularly on the southwest plateau. There is coastal variation as well and the further south you are, the higher the heat and rainfall will be.
While the dry season is from February to April on the coast, it can extend from January to May in the hills. The southern coast does experience what is locally called the “little dry” in July and August, with a moderation in precipitation.
The annual rainfall in Belize ranges from 1350 mm (approx 50“) in the north and west to over 4500 mm (approx 175“) in the extreme south. I’m sure you’ve already figured out that’s more than three times as much rain in the coastal south as in the hills!
Variation in temperature can be substantial as well, as they range from a low of 50℉ (10℃) to 95℉ (35℃). The median temperature is 79℉ (22℃) on the ocean while it’s a pleasant 72℉ (26℃) in the hills. Some relief is found on the coast from the constant ocean breezes, however.
The greatest extremes are found in the coastal south where it is very hot and wet. Conversely it is substantially dryer and cooler in the hills, particularly on the southwest plateau. It’s recommended to have heavy blankets or heating available for nights on the plateau!
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Belize Climate: Hurricanes
This weather condition is certainly the elephant in the room! Belize experiences hurricanes in the September to December standard North American hurricane season.
They have been known to devastate parts of Belize over the years, even though infrequent. Belize City was destroyed twice and caused the capital to be moved inland to Belmopan. Corozal has been destroyed a couple of times as well.
Belize went through a twenty year period without hurricanes or Category 5 storms, between 1978 and 1998. People were lulled into a false sense of security and believed that storm patterns had changed.
Whether that is true or not, the storms came back with a vengeance, destroying the banana and citrus industry in the south and the infant papaya farms in the north. Tourism also took a substantial hit.
However the tourists and the expats have come back, and the fields have been replanted. All this is a result of the resilient nature of the people and the inescapable draw of the only English speaking land in Central America.
Belize Climate FAQ’s
What is the Weather Like Year-Round in Belize?
Belize has a subtropical climate, so the weather year-round is relatively mild. The country is located between Mexico and Guatemala, with Mexico to the North and Guatemala to the South.
The average yearly temperature in Belize is about 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures range from around 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. January tends to be the coolest month, while May is the warmest.
Temperature also varies across areas of Belize. In the hills, the weather tends to be cooler, with an average of 69 degrees Fahrenheit. On the coast, it’s warmer, with an average of 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Inland temperatures are often more extreme because the coastal breeze does not regulate the temperature.
What are the Two Seasons in Belize?
The country is familiar with two main seasons, a dry season and a wet season. The dry season typically goes from February to May and the wet from June to November. However, August and September tend to be drier months as well.
The difference in precipitation between the Northern and Southern areas can be drastic. The mean annual rainfall is around 60 inches in the North and 160 inches in the South. The amount of rain varies from year to year in most areas of Belize. However, the rain doesn’t vary quite as much in the South.
How Cold Does Belize Get?
Though the temperature in Belize can go as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it rarely goes below 65. So, it is a fairly temperate climate. December and January tend to be the coolest months. However, they are still fairly warm.
Belize is hit with a cold front about every ten days from October to April. These fronts usually come from the South East and progress through the Northern Caribbean.
Can You Swim in Belize in December?
Swimming in Belize during December is a great idea. Though December can be rainy, it is not as rainy as some other months and experiences a lot of sunshine. Also, the sea temperatures during December tend to be high, making it the perfect time to swim.
The average temperature for Belize in December is around 77 degrees. The average highest temperature is around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lowest is about 72 degrees.
Hurricanes in Belize
One drawback of the weather in Belize is that it sits in a hurricane zone. Sixteen hurricanes have been recorded in Belize since 1930. Eight of the sixteen were considered major hurricanes. A major hurricane is a category three, four, or five on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale. The eight major hurricanes that hit Belize caused considerable damage and loss of life.
One of the most gruesome hurricanes to hit the country made landfall in 1931 when Belize was still known as British Honduras. The storm, called the British Honduras hurricane, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2,500 people. Another devastating storm happened in 1955 with Hurricane Hattie. Hattie killed 307 people in Belize City alone.
A few more recent hurricanes to hit Belize include Hurricane Keith in 2000, Hurricane Iris in 2001, and Hurricane Dean in 2007. All of these storms caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure and displaced many people.
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Other Natural Disasters in Belize
Hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, and drought are some of the natural disasters that Belize sees regularly. Flooding is highly possible because of the heavy rains during the wet season. The areas with lower elevations are more prone to flooding, putting strain on the country’s infrastructure and economy.
More flooding has been happening in recent years as natural disasters increase globally. However, Belize is still a beautiful, warm country that continues to attract tourists with its subtropical climate.
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