About five years ago, I put up a weather station at Villa Boyd and placed the data on the wunderground.com network. I also had a weather cam which showed a live feed from the front of my house towards Christiansted Harbor. Naturally, I posted it to the network so everyone could get a real time feel for weather conditions. I took the Weather Station down during storms but left the cam in place. It was kind of fun watching the storm’s progress on the Weather Cam. The show lasted until it got dark or the power went out.
From experience, I found out that cheap weather stations, under $150, only last about a year and those that are under $300 do not last much longer. During two complete years of operation over the last five years, I started paying attention to our weather more closely and had two epiphanies.
With my station off the air, the default weatherunderground link now says the temperature today is pretty much the same as it was yesterday. Over any short period of time like a season or three months, that is mostly true. The other observation is that we have four distinct seasons just like all the people from up north and you can learn to recognize them from the weather patterns.
Generally, the wind direction for most of the year (nine months) is out of the East South East and is warm moist tropical air currents coming off the coast of Africa. Starting about November, the wind direction starts shifting to East North East and the cooler dryer air of the North Atlantic starts impacting our weather but not right away. First the winds have to cool the waters of our inlets and Bays and the water trapped inside the reef. Even the Caribbean Sea has to be slightly cooled before the full impact of the Christmas winds starts around the winter solstice on December 21. From December until the end of May the temperature will average 78 to 82 every day with a daytime high around 84. From he winter equinox until the end of June is also the dry time of the year where you can expect a very insignificant shower about one day in four. Most of the time it will dry up for the day about 8 am in the morning.
In this period, the wind will be fairly constant at 13 miles per hour and about half that time it will be above the average with a strong tropical breeze in the 13 to 18 mile per hour range. This is our growing season for American type vegetables as the weather matches spring and very early summer in the Middle Atlantic States. You absolutely have to love those six months of the year.
Summer in St. Croix is not the demon that most people think it might be. The wind starts coming form the East South East in February but that doesn’t really change conditions until June. After that, the temperature rises to an average of 86 degrees, but it rarely goes over 90. In addition, the winds rise dramatically.
While the average spreed rises to 14 to 15 miles per hour, two thirds of the time it is in the 13 to 18 mile range which has a strong cooling effect. It is easy in the summer to be very active and get dehydrated because it is so comfortable. I have been telling my friends for years, that St. Croix is better in the summer than New Jersey, Texas, the Midwest and other places that have hot summers. Best of all, summer is low season so hotel and rental rates are generally lower. No wonder St. Croix is turning into a wedding destination for adventurous young people.
For those of us who live here, the only bad news about weather includes rare hurricanes and six weeks of sweltering humidity which occurs sometime between labor day and thanksgiving. It’s not really that hot during this period. In fact, the average temperature is actually dropping from a high of 86 to a much more comforting 82. The issue is the wind speed is also dropping to a low for the year around 10 miles per hour, Also, forget about those cooling and comforting trade-winds in the 13 to 18 mile an hour range, they only occur about one third the time. The months of August through November are also the wettest part of the year and this is the most active part of the hurricane season.
Virgin Islands residents did not move to St. Croix to suffer in silence so there is very little effort to stoically suffer from the weather. During the other nine months of the year, we talk about family, friends, fun events, fun things we have done or are planning to do. During the six weeks of fall, which is still and humid, those who don’t leave the island, sweat and bitch about the weather. We more or less jokingly blame each other for aggravating the weather gods and causing our hot and humid version of Hell. I try to ignore it, but no one really can unless you are in an air conditioned hotel room and the power stays on.
But what about that rainy season and what do you do on a rainy day? That’s another topic and is discussed here.