March 19, 2013

2012 La Ceiba, Honduras rainfall statistics

La Gringa's tropical-sized rain gauge, La Ceiba, Honduras
La Gringa's tropical-sized rain gauge
La Ceiba, Honduras

I haven't mentioned my rainfall statistics in a long time. I check my rain gauge every single day and have done this for 4-plus years! I keep a daily spreadsheet and update my La Ceiba rainfall tables on the Blogicito every now and then. Can you tell I was a former auditor? I like to keep track of those numbers.

I don't have one of those fancy electronic weather stations. I just do it with my tropical-size 24-inch (610 mm.) rain gauge and a ruler marked to the 16th of an inch. So don't expect that it will be accurate to a millimeter, but I think it is good enough for gardening or tourist purposes. I try to be accurate. If it is between marks, I estimate a 32nd of an inch. ;-)

Here is the 2012 update:

                 Monthly Rainfall 
                 La Ceiba, Honduras  
  2012       20112010 2009Average
Feb2.568.94 8.8816.639.1310.89
March13.253.96 2.6220.884.387.96
April0.000.56 0.004.387.253.05
May0.007.69 0.693.754.064.05
June0.006.00 6.126.882.755.44
July0.0010.63 9.1212.138.009.97
Aug0.0014.13 7.388.7514.2511.13
Sept0.008.72 9.7519.04.1310.40
Oct0.0014.13 21.8112.6316.5016.27
Nov0.0019.98 17.0017.6325.0019.90
Dec0.006.81 16.1313.3112.1912.11
Totals 25.62 105.04 125.25 166.50 127.75 131.14

You can find my monthly summaries of La Ceiba rainfall in centimeters from 2009 through February 2013 here.

La Ceiba had drought conditions again this year from about mid-March through June. The monthly totals are a little misleading because during that period we only had two days with any decent quantity of rain. Most of the rain days during that period were were 1/4 inch or less (6 mm.). January and December 2012 were also much lower than usual and you can see that the annual total was about 26 inches less (660 mm.) than the 4-year average. The highest rainfall day was August 2 with 5.25 inches (133 mm.) of rain, compared to a high of 9.5 inches (241 mm.) in 2011. The highest I've ever recorded was a whopping 16 inches (406 mm.) of rain on December 10, 2008.

The number of rain days per month for 2013 (and 2012) were: January 13 days (12), February 16 (7), March 12 (4), April 6 (0), May 9 (4), June 14 (7), July 21 (22), August 24 (11), September 15 (13), October 19 (18), November 25 (18), and December 12 (21), for a total of 186 days (137 in 2012). Don't let that scare you if you are planning a vacation. Many of these days were just a brief light afternoon sprinkle that dried up in 10 minutes.

Why do this?

I originally started tracking the rainfall because there are no official rain statistics for La Ceiba. I was mostly interested for gardening purposes since the climate is not like anything I was accustomed to. The airport doesn't keep an official record as most cities do. We would get what seemed like mountains of rain but the newspaper would report crazy things like that La Ceiba received 100 millimeters (3.94 inches) when I knew that we had received three times that amount. Other times they would talk about 15 millimeters (1/2 inch) when we had received several inches. I really think that they just make wild guesses, whoever 'they' is. If the numbers come from COPECO or the national weather service and they do have a rain gauge in La Ceiba, all I can say is that it must be under a tree.

Rainfall does vary from where we live to El Centro. Sometimes it will be pouring rain in El Centro but not at all here, or vice versa. In general, we seem to get a little more rain here, closer to the mountains, than in town. But we would never see the kind of differences that I'm seeing in my records compared to what is reported.

Even the temperatures for La Ceiba are not accurate. Temperature records are maintained at the airport, but they only keep track of them during the hours that the airport is open! The weather sites showed only the temperatures for 6 am to 9 pm most days. Similarly, there was no wind or humidity at night in La Ceiba, ever. I thought about trying to keep track of the temperatures, too, but that only lasted about a week. I'm not that obsessed.

Now the weather websites seem to be reporting more data, but I don't know where it is coming from. It's absolutely not realistic data. For example, AccuWeather shows that the average low temperature for the end of February and first part of March to be 59F in La Ceiba . No way! Absolutely no way. Since I've had my temperature gauge, the temperature, even on the coldest nights, has never fallen below 60F. Low 60's is extremely rare, like maybe once or twice per year. Even getting below 70s during the night is an occasion to be noted and results in hauling out my cozy afghan. I occasionally check my temperature gauge against the weather sites and it usually doesn't vary by more than a degree so I don't think that is the problem. All I can think is that they must be mistakenly using a Honduras country-wide average, not La Ceiba data.

Here's a good one: On March 13, we had a big rainstorm. I measured 6.75 inches (171 mm.) of rain. El Centro was flooded as usual. Accuweather shows 0.02 inches for that date! Give me a break! Wunderground reported 31 millimeters (1.22 inches). doesn't give current rainfall data or historical average temperatures. It does include historical monthly rainfall averages, but for only 9 months of the year for some reason. I couldn't find where any of these websites cite their source of data for Honduras.

Kudos to the Honduras Meteorology Service because they predicted 150 mm. (5.91 inches) for the north coast in a special bulletin on March 11. However, their daily forecast for the 13th, issued on the 12th, projected 10-15 millimeters, which I don't understand at all. Right hand–left hand? Sometimes I think that they have confused millimeters and centimeters.

I think that the current weather reports and the forecasts on these websites are pretty reliable, but the historical data is not.

La Ceiba weather in general

A weather widget in the sidebar gives the current La Ceiba temperature and "real feel" (in the far right column, about 6 clicks down). You can also click the links in the widget to get the Accuweather forecast.

My monthly rainfall tables (in inches and centimeters) can be found anytime on this page or by clicking the link under the Accuweather widget. I keep a daily chart but usually only update this page at the end of the month.

How is the weather in La Ceiba? gives an overview of the weather in this part of the country and links to a good overview of Honduras weather — which despite what many websites imply, is not the same all over the country. "When is the rainy season?" cannot be answered without first asking "What part of the country?". Here is an overview from Countries of the World:

Although all of Honduras lies within the tropics, the climatic types of each of the three physiographic regions differ. The Caribbean lowlands have a tropical wet climate with consistently high temperatures and humidity, and rainfall fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The Pacific lowlands have a tropical wet and dry climate with high temperatures but a distinct dry season from November through April. The interior highlands also have a distinct dry season, but, as is characteristic of a tropical highland climate, temperatures in this region decrease as elevation increases.

And to skim through everything I've written on weather (and earthquakes), check out the 'weather' topic. Some of the articles are pretty interesting, even exciting, but be warned that there are a lot of "it's too hot", it's too cold", "not enough rain", and "too much rain" articles. I've been trying to cut back on those. ;-D

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