When is Hurricane Season In Costa Rica? Peak Timing and Earliest Hurricane on Record

Written by Niccoy Walker
Published: May 30, 2023
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Costa Rica is a lush, rainforested country in Central America. It also sees millions of tourists within its borders every year due to its luxury resorts, tropical climate, and beautiful beaches. And because it is a tropical country, the area experiences short dry seasons and long, intense rainy seasons. And the country is known to be affected by heavy storms. If you’re planning a trip, you may be curious to know when the stormy season aligns with your travel dates. When is hurricane season in Costa Rica? Discover the answer now, including how often they occur, where they normally hit, and the earliest hurricane on record. 

When is Hurricane Season in Costa Rica?

Beautiful blue sky day with a blue sea and empty sand. Playa Samara, Costa Rica, Central America.

When is hurricane season in Costa Rica? Find out now!

©LMspencer/Shutterstock.com

Hurricane season in Costa Rica runs from late May to late November and peaks in October and November. While the country is in the Caribbean, it only sees hurricanes occasionally. Technically, it is south of the hurricane belt, meaning it avoids many of the worst storms. However, the ones that do hit Costa Rica are often devastating, causing fatalities and significant damage.

Is Costa Rica High Risk For Hurricanes?

Costa Rica has a low risk for hurricanes. Despite its tropical location, this country is close to the equator and below the path of most hurricanes in this region. Out of the seven tropical cyclone zones that consistently form these strong storms, Costa Rica is not located in any of these areas. However, it still sees its fair share of tropical storms and heavy rains from May to November. The dry season in Costa Rica runs from December to late April, which is considered their summer.

What Month is the Worst For Hurricanes?

October is the worst month for hurricanes in Costa Rica, with November coming in a close second. Even though the hurricane season can start as early as late May and end as late as early December, the country doesn’t see most of its adverse weather until October and November. Historically, this is the period when most hurricanes occur. Since 1887, Costa Rica has experienced seven hurricanes in October and five in November. To compare, it has only had one hurricane in May, one in July, two in August, and two in September.

MonthNumber of Hurricanes Since 1887
May1
June0
July1
August2
September2
October7
November5
December1

How Often Do Hurricanes Hit Costa Rica?

Hurricane

Thankfully, hurricanes don’t hit Costa Rica very often

©FotoKina/Shutterstock.com

As you can see from the above table, hurricanes do not hit Costa Rica very often. The country has kept a record of the number of storms for over 130 years. And within those 130 years, only 18 hurricanes and strong tropical storms have moved onto Costa Rican land. Most of the storms occurred during the 1900s (a total of nine), and only two happened in the 2020s. The most recent hurricane to hit Costa Rica was in November 2020 (Hurricane Etna), killing two in a mudslide.

Where Do Hurricanes Normally Hit in Costa Rica?

Hurricanes occur more frequently in Guanacaste, Limon, and Alajuela. Guanacaste Province borders the Pacific Ocean and is a popular tourist spot for its calm waters, water sports, and luxury resorts. Puerto Limon is the seventh largest city in Costa Rica and home to over 94,000 people and is a cruise destination. The city lies on the country’s east along the Caribbean Sea. Alajuela is more inland, outside of San Jose. 

What Part of Costa Rica is the Safest From Hurricanes?

While the odds are in your favor for avoiding hurricanes, Costa Rica is also known for having unpredictable weather. And it’s not so much about where you stay versus when you stay. The beach and resort areas experience the best weather from December through April. By May, the Pacific side will begin receiving rain, escalating into heavy rains by August and September. While the Caribbean coast can have excellent weather throughout most of the year. However, it can change quickly.

Hurricane from space. Satellite view. Super typhoon over the ocean. The eye of the hurricane. View from outer space. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

Costa Rica has only had two hurricanes within the last ten years

©Vikks/Shutterstock.com

What Was the Biggest Hurricane to Ever Hit Costa Rica?

Hurricane Cesar in July 1996 was the worst hurricane to ever hit Costa Rica. It caused landslides, flash floods, and river flooding. At least 39 people were killed, 29 were listed as missing, and the damage amounted to over $150 million.

What Was the Earliest Hurricane to Ever Hit Costa Rica?

In 2008, Costa Rica experienced a strong tropical storm on May 29. It caused mudslides, two deaths, downed power lines, and prompted evacuations. The earliest official hurricane occurred July 28, 1996, when Hurricane Cesar struck the country and caused significant damage.

How Many Hurricanes Have Hit Costa Rica in the Last Ten Years?

While the area has seen several major and destructive hurricanes, they are uncommon. Within the last ten years, there have only been two hurricanes and one tropical storm that hit Costa Rica. Out of those three storms, two people died, and heavy rainfall, flooding, and mudslides were reported.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Ashish Kumar


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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