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Cold Front season off to lively start for Cancun and Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya, Q.R. — With the 2023 hurricane season officially over, state authorities say they remain on watch for cold fronts. It has been these types of fronts that have caused recent heavy rains throughout the state.

Cancun Civil Protection Directorate Antonio Riveroll Ribbón says while the Atlantic hurricane season officially ended November 30, the seasonal cold fronts, which have been in watch since September, overlapped with the last two months of hurricane season.

To date, Mexico has already had 13 cold fronts arrive from the U.S., several of which have reached the Yucatan Peninsula. Not only do these cold fronts significantly decrease nighttime and morning temperatures, they are also responsible for the sudden dumps of rain that have left many inner city streets flooded.

Many residential streets flooded with the arrival of recent cold fronts.
Photo: Isla Mujeres November 2023.

“We were not affected by hurricanes, but we had rain,” Riveroll Ribbón said regarding the recent hurricane season. “Instead, we had several situations that affected us in a great way,” he reported on the heavy rains felt around the state last month.

Riveroll Ribbón says that the cold front season, which officially began in September, ends in the month of May. So far this season, the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN), has recorded 14 cold fronts in Mexican territory.

Of the 14, 13 have arrived since September with one, the first one, being recorded slightly out of season in late August. The forecast for the September 2023 to May 2024 season is 56 cold fronts.

Mexico’s SMN is forecasting 56 cold fronts for the country during the 2023-2024 winter season.

While there is no forecast on just how many of those cold front will affect the Yucatan Peninsula, at least half of Mexico’s states will experience either freezing or near-freezing temperatures. On December 2, the SMN reported 19 of Mexico’s 32 states were forecast to record freezing to near-freezing nighttime temperatures.

On December 2, 2023, the SMN reported 19 of Mexico’s 32 states will record freezing to near-freezing temperatures.

According to the SMN, a cold front separates a mass of cold, dry air from a mass of warm air. The cold air mass, being denser, pushes the warm air mass underneath, forcing this warm air to rise.

If there is enough moisture in the atmosphere at these times, cloud cover and the possibility of thunderstorms often develop. Cold fronts are often accompanied by low pressure areas, where winds blow counterclockwise around the low pressure area in the Northern Hemisphere.

Derived from the above, the wind direction before the passage of the cold front is generally from the south or southwest, with warm temperatures. After the passage of the cold front, the winds change to be from the west or northwest direction and the air temperature tends to decrease.

“We are already at cold front number 13. We had cold front 12 over the Peninsula for a couple of days (…) they will be arriving more frequently,” he said.

“We have to be aware of them (the cold fronts) because they can bring us rains like last time with thunderstorms that are very heavy with torrential rains,” he added.

Last month, Mexico recorded its first snowfall of the 2023 winter season. Cold air from the U.S. made perfect conditions for snowfall which affected five of Mexico’s northern states.