SUMMER AND WINTER IN PANAMA by Linda Card
It’s odd that the Panamanians think it’s winter in August. Isn’t it summer in August in the northern hemisphere, and winter in the southern hemisphere? Once you have spent an entire year in Panama, though, it begins to make sense. It is cooler in August than it is in February, and so for those who live here, it feels like wintertime.
Panama, and all of Central America, have just two seasons. Summer is December through May. This part of the year is considered to be summertime because it is the hottest, driest time of the year. March and April are especially uncomfortable.
Winter is June through November. This is considered wintertime because it is the wet, rainy season, and often considerably cooler. In the highland areas, such as El Valle, Volcán and Boquete, homes may even have fireplaces to fend off the chill and damp in the wintertime.
Although it’s always hot in Panama, the two seasons are quite different, and govern daily activities.
Summertime, called el verano, is the time for construction work. It may be hotter for the workers (how do they do it?) but at least their work won’t get washed away! It is also beach and vacation time, and you’ll see advertising promoting typical summer activities. Folks know that in el verano chances are events won’t get rained out, so it’s a big time for weddings, graduations (the school year ends in December) and outdoor parties. There are plenty of holidays in the summer, starting with Mother’s Day in December, the week of Christmas to New Year’s and, of course, Carnaval in February. Baseball, the country’s national sport, runs from February to March. The kids go back to school at the end of February and have a break for Semana Santa (Holy Week before Easter). By the time May rolls around the countryside has turned brown, everyone is sick and tired of the searing temperatures, and waiting expectantly for the rains to begin.
In the wintertime, called el invierno, it rains a lot; in fact it may rain part of every day. The rain usually comes in the afternoon, so outside activities need to be done in the morning. The trees, shrubs and lawns all turn lush green and grow like crazy, which keeps all the yard men and gardeners super busy. Driving in a down pour can be challenging and make a mess of the traffic. Panama’s football (aka soccer) season runs from late July to early September, so it’s a good thing the stands are covered! There are several national holidays in November, and the parades sometimes get rained on. After months of wet, damp, cloudy weather everyone is eager for sunny days to return.
Both seasons have their pros and cons, depending on your personal preferences, favorite pastimes and where you live. For those who live in the often sweltering flatlands, such as David, Santiago or Las Tablas, the cooling afternoon rains of wintertime are a most welcome relief from the heat. In the mountain towns of western Panama, the frequent cloud cover and drizzly gray weather may be too dreary for some folks, but pleasantly spring-like for others.
So if you are coming to Panama to visit or to live, consider the weather and the seasons carefully before deciding where you want to be. If possible, spend some time here in both wintertime and summertime so you are familiar with the climate all year round. Then you can make an educated choice about which part of beautiful Panama will be your new home.
¿Qué tiempo hace? means What’s the weather?
Hace calor means It’s hot
Hace fresco means It’s cool (fresh)
Hace frio means It’s cold
¡Qué calor, mucho verano! means What heat, a lot of summer!
Viene el agua means It’s going to rain (the water is coming)
Está nublado means It’s cloudy
Hace bajareque means It’s sprinkling (in Boquete)
Mucho viento means It’s very windy