What is the Marine Weather like cruising the Caribbean during January?

If you are planning a cruise or will be sailing during the month of January check out what weather to expect in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. 

Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico January

Over the Caribbean Sea during January winds tend to be mostly from the east or northeast averaging forces 4-5 (11-21 knots).  Over the Gulf of Mexico winds tend to be more variable but still averaging mostly forces 4-5 (11-21 knots).  The risk for gale force (34 knots) or higher winds is low, generally 1 % or less, except for the waters off Colombia where the risk is 2%.  Over the western Gulf of Mexico the gale risk is 3%, due mostly to strong winds associated with winter cold fronts.  The Northerlies, associated with strong cold fronts, can briefly produce winds of 30 knots or more, especially over the northwestern Gulf. 

The risk of encountering rough 8 foot (about 2.5 meters) or higher waves is about 10-15% over the Gulf of Mexico, 10-20% over the eastern and  northwestern Caribbean but increases 20-45% over the central Caribbean Sea.  The highest risk is concentrated over southwestern Caribbean Sea, northwest of the Colombian coast.  

Air temperatures over most of the Caribbean Sea average around 77-79 F (25-26 C),however,  the northwestern-most section tends to be a bit cooler averaging near 75-77 F (24-25 C).  Over the Gulf of Mexico there is a much greater range in temperatures from 68-75 F (20-24 C) over the southern Gulf to 59-66 F (15-19 C) over the northern Gulf where cold northerly winds associated with cold fronts can drop temperatures by 18-27 F (10-15 C) within a 24 hour period.

Atlas Pilot Chart Caribbean and Gulf Mexico air temperature (C) and pressure in mb for  January


Sea Temperature
Sea surface temperatures will average  79-81 F (26-27 C) for most of the Caribbean Sea during January.  In  the Gulf of Mexico, however, sea surface temperatures can vary quite a bit ranging from 64-72 F (18-22 C) over the northwestern Gulf,  72-75 F (22-24C) over the southwestern Gulf, and 75-79 F (24-26C) over the southeastern Gulf.

Tropical Cyclones
Tropical cyclones are very rare during January, limited only to about 1 % for the easternmost portion of the Caribbean Sea. 

Atlas Pilot Chart Caribbean and Gulf Mexico sea temperature and tropical cyclone risk for January

About Fred Pickhardt

I am a marine meteorologist and sailed briefly with American Export Lines in the Far East trade after graduating from State University of New York Maritime College. I have extensive experience in weather analysis, weather forecasting, optimum ship routing, vessel performance evaluations and forensic weather event reconstructions. I founded Ocean Weather Services and as Owner and Chief Consultant currently provide optimum ship routing services and forensic marine weather reports to the maritime industry.
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