Virgin Islands: Weather Overview
About Virgin Islands
- Area: 352km2
- Population: 108,708
- Currency: Dollar (USD)
About Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are an archipelago in the Caribbean that belongs to the group known as the Leeward Islands. The archipelago is split into two parts; the US Virgin Islands administered by the USA and the British Virgin Islands administered by Britain.
Just to the west of the Virgin Islands youâll find the island of Puerto Rico and further west youâll reach the Dominican Republic and Haiti. To the east, the Virgin Islands are neighboured by St. Kitts and Antigua
The Virgin Islands lie roughly 18 degrees north of the equator and as such they receive a tropical climate, meaning hot temperatures year round and two distinct seasons dictated by rainfall.
There is very little seasonal fluctuation in temperatures; the average temperature is generally in the mid-20s. It rarely falls below 20C and can often climb up to 30C. January and February is the coolest time of year with the daytime temperature usually around 25C, while August is the hottest time when daytime temperature averages in the high 20s. The difference across the year is only a couple of degrees and the main variation in weather comes from the amount of rainfall.
Sometimes, as with anywhere in the world, you can get out of the ordinary weather and records show the highest temperature recorded in the Virgin Islands is 37C and the lowest 11C.
Rainfall averages about 1000mm across the year. Islands further east may see a little more, up to 1100 or 1200mm and some other islands may see a little less. Rainfall can occur in any month of the year but it is predominantly seasonal: there are two distinct seasons in the year: the dry season from November to April and the wet season from May to October.
This is the most favourable time to visit the Virgin Islands and pleasant temperatures are accompanied by fine sunny weather. Rainfall is low at this time of year with just the odd shower interrupting the perfect sunshine. You will get a few more downpours at the beginning and end of the season, however.
Expect daytime temperatures around the mid-20s. It rarely drops below 20C at night and rarely climbs above 30C in the day. These favourable temperatures are made even more comfortable by the cooling trade winds that visit the island from the northeast bringing fresh sea breezes. The archipelagoâs situation in the Caribbean makes the islands perfectly placed to receive the full benefit from these soothing breezes, especially the most northeasterly of the islands.
January to March are the prime months when temperatures are coolest and rainfall is lowest. After this, it begins to get a little warmer, although since temperatures only vary a few degrees across the year the difference is not huge.
The dry season months really are a perfect time to enjoy all the Caribbean has to offer.
The rains normally start up in May before building to there heaviest in July and August and then tailing off and disappearing by the time November arrives.
May can see more than 100mm of rainfall but by the wettest months of July and August, monthly average rainfall can be in excess of 200mm. Averages can sometimes be misleading, however, as the heaviness of the rains varies a lot from season to season. One thing you can be sure of though is that youâll see plenty of tropical downpours, especially in the afternoon and evening.
Temperatures reach their hottest around August time, averaging 28C. The higher humidity at this time of year can make conditions somewhat muggy and uncomfortable and often you will welcome a refreshing tropical downpour.
The one thing to be aware of in the wet season is that this is hurricane season in the Caribbean. From June to November intense tropical storms build up in the Caribbean Sea and if these collide with the low lying Virgin Islands the results can be disastrous.
August and September are statistically the most likely months for a hurricane to hit the Virgin Islands. While they can be truly devastating the occurrence of a direct hit by a hurricane is in fact quite rare and happens about once every 10 years on average. The last major hurricane to hit the islands was Hurricane Lenny is 1999. Before that, there was Georges in 1998 and Marilyn in 1995.
More frequently the islands are brushed by a hurricane passing nearby or they are hit by a tropical storm, which is similar to a hurricane only weaker.
Hurricanes can cause severe flooding and landslides, destroy buildings and even claim many lives so they are always taken seriously. Most hotels are now hurricane proof and staff will know what to do in the event of a hurricane.
You shouldnât necessarily be put off visiting in the wet season. Usually, your stay will just be interrupted by a few heavy evening downpours. There can still be plenty of sunshine in the day. You do run the risk of having a few days of your holiday washed out, however, but on the other hand, watching a torrential tropical downpour and the accompanying lightning show can be a very memorable experience. Many hotels also offer a discount or refund in the event of a hurricane.