Known for its hot summers and arid landscapes, Mexico is certainly not the first country that you picture when you’re thinking about snow. Does it ever happen, though? Does it snow in Mexico?
Although it is a relatively hot and humid country, it does in fact snow in some parts of Mexico over the winter months. There are some states in Mexico, mainly in the northern regions, where it is likely that you will see snow at some point each year. Areas of high altitude are where snowfall is most common, with some tall peaks being snow-capped all year round.
Read ahead in this article to find out more about the climate of Mexico, and where in the country you might be able to see some of its elusive snowfall.
Where Does It Snow In Mexico?
There are a surprising number of places in Mexico that do actually see some snow almost every year. Many of the northern states get small amounts of snowfall in the winter months and some of the higher altitude regions and mountainous areas are covered in snow for part of the year. The areas that might see snow in the winter include:
- Baja California
- Nuevo León
- San Luis Potosí
In central Mexico, snow is only common on the highest peaks, in areas like:
- State of Mexico
- Nevado de Colima
So, there are parts of Mexico where it is not uncommon to see snow during the colder months. There are also surprise snows that strike areas of the country on occasion during bouts of extreme weather, even in areas where snow is not a yearly occurrence.
What Climate Types Does Mexico Have?
Mexico has a very varied climate, due to its large size and the diversity of the landscape across the country. It is located above the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, spanning from its southernmost point on the border with Guatemala (14° North) to its northernmost point at the border with the United States (32° North).
Some areas are relatively temperate, with a distinct difference in temperature and weather between the seasons, whereas others remain at a similar temperature all year long. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, there is very little variation in temperature between the winter and summer months. The many different climate types in Mexico include:
It is the climates in parts of the northern altiplano (the Central Mexican Plateau), the highlands, and the high peaks in the Sierra Madre mountain range that are most likely to receive snowfall every year.
When Does It Snow In Mexico?
In large parts of Mexico, there are two main seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season typically runs from May to the middle of October, and the dry season lasts from the middle of October until April. This is the case from central Mexico down to the equator, where the distinction between summer and winter is not very pronounced.
In some of the northern regions, however, there are noticeable differences between the temperature and weather from summer to winter. In Mexico, the seasons fall on:
- Spring: April, May, June
- Summer: July, August, September
- Autumn: October, November, December
- Winter: January, February, March
In the winter months is when the country will be at its coldest, and snow is most likely. Some places will even reach a few degrees below freezing.
How Cold Are Winters In Mexico?
Depending on where you are in the country, you might not even be able to tell that it is winter from the temperature alone. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, the yearly average temperature is between 75.2°F and 82.4°F. Here, cold winters are very rare and the difference in temperature between the height of summer and the middle of winter is only around 9°F.
In other parts of Mexico, however, winters can get cold enough to be below freezing. In Chihuahua, for example, temperatures in the summer often reach as high as 95°F, but winter temperatures can see lows of 5°F. On average, though, temperatures are rarely below 35°F during the winter, even in the coldest regions of Mexico.
Where Can You See Snow In Mexico?
If you’re wanting to see some snow for yourself in Mexico, you’ll need to be quite selective about where and when you visit. There are, however, some locations that are likely to have a bit of snow during the winter, particularly higher up in the mountains.
Copper Canyon in Chihuahua
Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre in Spanish) is a National Park that is made up of six different canyons in the Sierra Madres. These beautiful canyons get their name from the coppery green colour of the walls.
There is an alpine climate in Copper Canyon and the rim of the canyon reaches an elevation of nearly 8000ft. It is at the higher peaks, covered in dense pine forests, where you are likely to see snow between December and March.
Mexiquillo in Durango
The Mexiquillo natural park is home to vast coniferous forests, beautiful waterfalls, and tall cliffs. The park itself covers 52 square miles of land in the northern state of Durango, and it is not uncommon to see snow across the park at certain times of the year.
It is rare that snow settles in Mexiquillo, but it does fall on occasion, particularly when the temperatures are lowest in December and January.
Arteaga in Coahuila
Arteaga is an area in the state of Coahuila, surrounding a city of the same name. It is known as the “Mexican Swiss” as it is situated between the snow-capped peaks and wooded landscapes of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
If you venture up into the Sierra Madres, you might be able to see quite a bit of snow, and there are even artificial ski slopes to have a play on. Arteaga usually gets snow in the months of January and February.
Which Mountains In Mexico Are Covered In Snow?
If you really want to be sure that you’re going to witness some snow or ice in Mexico, though, then it’s best to visit the highest altitudes. Snow can cover the peaks for large parts of the year, and some of the tallest are snow-capped all year round. Most of the mountains in Mexico are within the vast Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl)
Pico de Orizaba is the tallest mountain in Mexico. Located in Veracruz, it is towards the southern part of the country. It is an inactive stratovolcano and is the highest volcanic summit in North America, at 18,491 feet above sea level. In fact, it is the second most prominent volcanic peak in the world, behind only Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
The peak of Pico de Orizaba is covered in snow and ice all year round, and it is home to many glaciers.
Perhaps a little riskier to visit, Popocatépetl is an active volcano, located in the central region of Mexico, just southeast of Mexico City. It is the second-highest in the country at 17,802 feet above sea level.
Until recently, this mountain was home to many glaciers, but a combination of climate change and increased volcanic activity has seen all of them melt away. There is still snow and ice at the peak, though, which can be seen from Mexico City.
The third highest peak in Mexico is Iztaccíhuatl at 17,160 feet above sea level. The name of this dormant volcano means “white woman”, as its four snow-capped peaks are thought to resemble the head, chest, knees, and feet of a sleeping woman.
Iztaccíhuatl is actually connected to Popocatépetl by the Paso de Cortés and it is the lowest peak in the country that contains permanent snow and glaciers.
Does It Snow In Mexico City?
Although Mexico City is surrounded by high elevations and tall mountain peaks, the city itself almost never receives any snow. The hillsides around the city may get snowfall in the winter months, but it is very rare to see snow in Mexico City.
There have, however, been some remarkable reports of snow in Mexico’s capital in the past.
On January 11th, 1967, Mexico City was actually covered by snow that was up to two inches thick in some areas. Since then, though, it has not snowed in the city and it is unlikely that it will again, as temperatures almost never fall below 42 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the dead of winter.
In Summary: Does It Snow In Mexico?
So, does it snow in Mexico? Perhaps surprisingly, it does! Although Mexico is, in general, a very hot and arid country, it has a variety of different climates and some areas do see small amounts of snow during the winter months.
In the northern regions, like Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, it is not uncommon to get flurries of snow in December, January and February. Higher altitude areas are where snow is most likely to occur, though, and some of the tall peaks are covered by snow and ice all year round.
If you are desperate to see some snow, it is probably not the first country to put on your list, but snow does fall in Mexico every single year.