A simplified boundary layer (SBL) model formulation is tested against the mesoscale meteorological model MM5 with respect to the 2 km interpolation of hourly surface wind station data for stations in the close vicinity of the Panama Canal. The required short computation time for the real time interpolation of the wind during air pollution incidents involving crossing cargo ships makes the use of simplified wind models an alternative to the full implementation of mesoscale models. The SBL model does take into consideration the land cover of the ground surface, which exhibits substantial variability in the study region. The SBL model produces features of wind speed that are similar to those of the MM5 simulation along the better-observed Canal centreline. The presence of orographic features makes the applicability of the simplified formulation reasonable only near the Canal where the terrain has small undulations. The simulated wind fields show that the dry season (January to April) is more spatially and temporally coherent than the wet season and that it also has higher wind speeds than the wet season. The evening hours have higher wind speeds than the morning hours in both seasons. The simulated wind exhibits higher average wind speeds and higher frequencies of exceeding 5 m s-1 within the Gatun Lake on the Caribbean side of the Isthmus and the entrance/exit of the Canal on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. These results are useful for the development of effective disaster mitigation strategies for air pollution events in the region.