What’s the weather like cruising the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during May?


Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

The weather cruising the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during May is excellent with light to moderate winds and low risk for gales.


East to Northeast trade winds of Beaufort forces 3-4 (7-16 knots) prevail across the Caribbean during May with somewhat higher winds of Beaufort forces 4-5 (11-21 knots) prevailing off the coast of Columbia. Over the Gulf of Mexico, east to southeast winds of Beaufort forces 3-4 (7-16 knots) prevail, except east to northeast winds in the Bay of Campeche.  The risk for gale force winds is very low for both the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico this month. 

Pilot Chart of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea for May


The risk for rough seas of 8 feet (2.4 meters) or higher is less than 10% across the Gulf of Mexico, the northwestern Caribbean and the easternmost portion of the Caribbean. This risk increases to 10-20 % over the central Caribbean Sea with a somewhat greater than 20% risk concentrated off the coast of Columbia. 


Over the Gulf of Mexico air temperatures average near 77 F (25 C) over the northwestern Gulf, warming to around 80-81 F ( 27 C) in the Bay of Campeche and near the Yucatan Channel.  In the Caribbean, air temperature averages around 80-81 F (27 C) throughout. Most destinations in the Caribbean will experience daily morning low temperatures ranging from 74-80 F (23-27 C)  with afternoon high temperatures 80-92 F (30-33C).

Sea Surface Temperature 

Sea surface temperatures average around 77 F (25C) over the northwestern Gulf, increasing to 81-82 F (27-28C) over the Bay of Campeche and near the Yucatan Channel.  In the Caribbean, sea temperatures are mostly 81-82 F (27-28 C) with the warmest waters over the westernmost Caribbean. 


May begins the rainy season in the western Caribbean, including Cancun, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica as well as parts of the Bahamas. Drier conditions remain in most of the eastern and southern Caribbean locations, although rainfall amounts start to increase in the Windward Islands.

Tropical Cyclones

The risk for tropical cyclones

Frequency of Tropical Cyclones in 5-Degree Squares during May

begins to increase this month with a 1-3 % risk for encountering a tropical cyclone over the Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean Sea. The risk remains 1% or less over the eastern Caribbean. 




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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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