Climate and Environment

Mexico’s Rainy Season

Monsoon Rains over Mexico's Caribbean Sea

Mexico’s rainy season runs (generally) from May/June through to October each year—sometimes spilling over into November.

Traveling in Mexico during the rainy season

You can usually tell when a thunderstorm is approaching; you’ll feel the air temperature drop, the wind might pick-up suddenly, you may hear thunder and see lightning and the dark rain clouds roll-in before the heavens open up.  However, sometimes cloud cover that looks benign and that has shed no moisture for hours can suddenly and unexpectedly drop a bucket of rain on you within a couple of minutes: beware of this when you’re on an afternoon walk, or driving on otherwise dry roads.

Most major highways in Mexico have adequate drainage systems, but it’s as well to look out for areas where water may have built-up, especially around long, winding, bends and where the road topography doesn’t lend itself to immediate drainage.  Drivers on Mexico’s highways don’t always regulate their speed during rain storms, so be extra vigilant.  Extreme care needs to be taken on mountain roads and remote byways which, in addition to becoming a driving hazard in torrential rain storms, may also suffer soil erosion that can cause landslides.  It’s not uncommon to see collapsed sections of road on byways and rural roads in remote areas of Mexico caused by sudden and massive storms during the rain season.

If you get caught out in one of the thunderstorms, you are likely to get drenched right through to your skin.  If you’re out walking and there’s no place to take shelter, the rains will be intense enough, at times, to make you feel as if someone has emptied a bucket of water over your head.  If you have a really strong umbrella, that might help provided the winds are calm.  Small, fragile, umbrellas will do little to keep you dry during a monsoon rain storm in Mexico.

An experience in its own right

Taking shelter under a canopy, balcony, or similar shelter and witnessing a strong thunderstorm in Mexico can offer a rewarding experience.  The thunder and lightning show can be spectacular and, combined with an extraordinary amount of water falling from the sky in short order, the event is quite exhilarating to the senses.

After the storms pass, the air feels fresh, the sun may come out again (early storms), and you can enjoy the sweet, aromatic smell of the flora which become greatly accentuated by the damp air.  In Mexico City, where the air quality can become an issue in the winter and dry spring climate, the rains also provide a welcome cleansing of the air.

Although some people try to avoid visiting Mexico during the rain season, the choice may be unfounded as there are several advantages to being in Mexico during the rainy season: read about enjoying the experience of Mexico’s Monsoon Rains for further insights.

Longer-lasting rain spells

On some occasions, if a tropical depression moves-in to the area or region where you’re situated (these tend to be most prevalent during the hurricane season), the rains may linger-on with overcast skies or drizzle continuing for up to a few days.  More often, monsoon rains arrive and pass quickly, or morning cloud and mist brought by overnight storms evaporates swiftly during the course of first half of the day.  When the weather system causing the depression passes, the cycle returns to its usual pattern, delivering bright sunny skies the following morning.

Living with Mexico’s rainy season

If you live in Mexico, the rainy season may cause some inconveniences.  Localized temporary flooding is the most common side-effect, which is not entirely surprising given the sheer quantity of water that falls in a short period.  Roads, especially in cities and built-up towns, may become inundated and traffic may come to a standstill, especially if a car breaks-down on your route.

Power cuts can be another side-effect of thunderstorms.  Persistent heavy rains and lightning are the key factors which cause most power-outages during the rainy season, as most power cables and in Mexico are situated overhead and thus are susceptible to the elements. Power cuts may last from a few minutes to several hours.  On some occasions, the storms might cause a power cut that lasts for a day or more, especially if lightning strikes a major sub-station or local transformer, or if strong winds blow down trunk-route power-lines.  Roof flooding is another thing to look out for: most homes in Mexico have flat roofs, and it’s good practice to regularly check the drainage outlets on the roof of your house (or condo building) and ensure they are clear of any debris, branches, leaves, etc.

For residents living in houses located in rural or semi-rural locations with systems that collect rain water for use in the home, the monsoon rains provide a regular and welcome top-up a property’s water cisterns or a community’s local aquifer, as well as bringing the garden’s plants and grass back to their full color and glory.

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6 Comments

  1. Michael says

    I first wandered in to Baja 35 years ago one summer in search of the perfect wave and have been captivated ever since. I love the rainy season in Mexico. It is a time of renewal and revitalization, particularly in the driest areas. Fewer snowbirds and tourists lend to an even slower pace of life especially in the smaller villages.

    Last year (June 2018) my now 50 something self headed South once again to look at a preretirement home in Baja California Sur. I knew it was likely we would see weather, hurricane season started early in ’18 but kept it to myself as to not dissuade my wife from wanting to go with me. Sure enough, sitting in the airport in Alta California the weather channel announced the second named storm was forming off the Mexican Riveria and headed north.

    I was smiling inside remembering how my 17 year old self would be loading surfboards into a 10 year old Toyota Corolla wagon and beginning the 14 hour drive to Rosarito. My wife was not so sure. I could tell she knew I was someplace else when she gave me the look. I reassured her we would be in well before what was then Tropical Storm Bud became a hurricane and if we had to we could cut our trip short.

    The place we were staying was on the beach in Los Cabos, a 1000 sf one bedroom unit at a large complex on the corridor, was well below where we wanted to be in terms of cost but would allow us a presence in BCS should we chose to build. More importantly it was a fortress designed to withstand a Catagory 5 storm so as Bud picked up speed and intensity I wasn’t worried about our safety.

    Bud came and went with little damage and became part of our personal legend. We didn’t buy the unit on the corridor opting for a forever home in Todos Santos an hour or so North.

    I think my point is, do not underestimate mother nature but do not live in fear of her either. Travel well.

  2. Jon Pace says

    We spend the rainy season mainly on Lake Chapala near Guadalajara and partly at another home on the beach in La Manzanilla, both places in the state of Jalisco. The rainy season normally starts here in June (later for the last two years) and runs into or even beyond October (especially for the last two years). We love it. We live on the beach during the ¨high¨ season, which means extremely dry weather on Lake Chapala´s north shore (Ajijic, San Antonio, Chapala area). We know because we used to live there year round and because we visit there a couple of times each year during the ¨winter.¨ We often get bloody noses from the dryness when visiting during that time of year. Most of the rain there during the rainy season starts in the afternoon and may extend into the evening or oven overnight. The rest of the day is sunny and beautiful. Much of the time the rain lasts just long enough to cool everything off and to ionize the air. It can be refreshing and delightful. Flooding in Guadalajara, however, happens every time that it rains for more than 20 minutes. That can pose a real problem depending on where you are driving while visiting the city. It is best to stay on the major routes only if possible when traveling there.

  3. Doug says

    We will be in Mexico City the last week of October. The 10 day forecast indicates rain. Is it generally all day at this time of year or of the morning or afternoon only variety common in more tropical places?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Doug,

      If there is a low-pressure system in place, or a tropical storm or hurricane is on the way, it could be overcast/rainy all day, but this is not usual. During the rain season, it’s usually sunny and dry in the mornings and daytime, with storms during the afternoons/evening some days. Weather forecasts often cite “storms” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be stormy all day. Enjoy your visit!

  4. Nikki says

    I traveled to punta mita in early June and it was a great experience. The rains were only at night, sometimes scary to listen to but very cool. The days were always sunny and 90. It gets really hot so prepare for extreme weather. Traveling in May/June is probably a good idea if you don’t want it to be too overpopulated. I loved it and would love to go back.

  5. Be particularly wary if you are in a hilly city such as Guanajuato. I always stay at Casa de Pita. It is halfway down a very steep hill. The rain rushes down the cobblestones, sometimes six inches deep. It is hazardous. Anyone trying to walk up or down the hill can easily be knocked down and carried away. This is especially true for smaller or elderly people, children or pets.

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