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Panama Canal Weather; Just How Much Rain per Hour is Possible?

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The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is the system of man made channels, locks, dams, and artificial lakes that connect the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean across the Isthmus of Panama. Since its completion in 1914 the Panama Canal has allowed shipping to cross the fifty mile wide isthmus at the narrowest part of the Americas. The Panama Canal locks allow ships to enter the system from either ocean and to be raised to the level of artificial Lake Gatun, 26 meters above sea level, to transit central Panama before being lowered to sea level on the other side.

One of the perils of building the Panama Canal was the weather. Torrential rains and resulting mud slides, especially with the huge amount of excavation involved in construction efforts caused not only construction delays but many deaths.

The other perils were tropical diseases, Malaria and Yellow Fever, both borne by mosquitoes breeding in standing water sources in the Panama Canal's tropical weather. Today there has been no Yellow Fever in Panama for 103 years and Panama does an excellent job in controlling mosquito populations to reduce associated tropical diseases such as malaria and Dengue Fever.

Major weather perils in Panama and along the Panama Canal today include sunburn and getting soaked in a sudden downpour.

Panama Canal Weather

Take a look the following weather radar image from the Panama Canal Authority weather radar for the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP, Autoridad del Canal de Panam) has its own weather station tied in to the United States National Weather Service. Notice that the potential millimeters of rain per hour can be read up to 80. This is three and a half inches an hour and not untypical for rainy season weather along the Panama Canal.

There is a reason, you see, why they call the jungle here "rain forest." Thus cruise lines suggest that you transit the Panama Canal in Panama's summer weather, which is the dry season. This is from mid November to April. They suggest you do not transit the Panama Canal during Panama's winter weather which is the wet season from May to mid November.

Another side of the equation is that there has never been a hurricane in the recorded history of Panama. They come across the equator and turn North long before landfall in Panama.

Heat and Panama Canal Weather

Google's Panama City weather forecast for the week of April 21, 2008 is typical of the nearby parts of the Panama Canal.

Day High Low
Monday 30 Celsius 28 Celsius
Tuesday 30 Celsius 28 Celsius
Wednesday 30 Celsius 28 Celsius
Thursday 30 Celsius 28 Celsius

For those not familiar with the Celsius scale this translates to a high of 86 and a low of 83 every day.

The Yahoo weather report for the same days for Colon on the other end of the Panama Canal is as follows.

Day High Low
Monday 89 71
Tuesday 91 71
Wednesday 92 73
Thursday 92 72
Friday 93 71

When you come to Panama, buy an umbrella and lots of sun screen. That is the Panama Canal and Panama weather advice.


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