Whether you are visiting the Virgin Islands on vacation, or reside there, it helps to know what the weather has in store. This is especially relevant if you are heading out on the water,
For the most part, the weather here is nearly perfect. The defining characteristic of weather in the Virgin Islands is our trade winds. These are very dependable, blowing from a bit south of east in the summer months, and a bit north of east in the winter. The trade winds slacken a bit to 5 - 10 knots in late summer, and pick back up to 10 - 20+ knots in winter. In rare cases, winds can gust to well over 30 knots; be sure to check the current wind speeds (below) before you head out on the water.
As the moisture laden sea-surface trade winds encounter our hilly islands, they are forced upward, where they cool and release their moisture, creating a succession of westward-sculling cumulus clouds. These cotton-ball clouds contrast beautifully against our deep blue skies, and provide some welcome shade, but if you see one with a dark base due east of you, you may be in for a very brief tropical shower. In nearly all cases, the sun will pop back out within minutes.
Average daytime temperatures in the VI range from 84°F in winter to 89°F in summer, with average night-time temperatures ranging from 70°F to 76°F, respectively. Ocean temperatures at mid-day range from 81°F in February to 87°F in September.
The only exceptions to nearly perfect weather include about a week of unsettled weather as the trades swing from ESE to ENE, and back again. This usually occurs sometime in May, and again in November, and these are accordingly our rainiest months. During these transition periods, and briefly outside of them, low pressure systems above the VI can lead weather to stream off South America, and approach the VI from the south or south-east. The other exception to our nearly perfect weather is tropical storms, details of which are provided below.
We've installed a weather station on the roof of Plumeria, on Gifft Hill, St. John, and the graphs below provide a real-time record of the weather there for the previous and the current day. If you move your cursor over the weather graphs, hover pop-ups provide additional details. To review weather data for any date within the last year, visit Plumeria's weather station page on Weather Underground. This weather station also provides the data for the "Current Weather" widget at the top right of this page. Note that Plumeria's altitude is 750 feet, so the air temperature measurements there will be about four degrees cooler than those down at sea level.
First-time visitors to St. John can become concerned when the forecast for their upcoming vacation shows several or mostly rainy days. No worries, mon! In almost all cases, this simply means that somewhere, sometime within the greater VI there will be a brief rain shower on that given day. In nearly all cases, the sun will pop back out after a few minutes. The official five-day weather forecast for St. John is as follows:
While the tropical storm season technically runs from June 1st to November 30th, the vast majority of storms cluster into August and September. For those concerned about tropical storms, please note that the Atlantic Ocean is vast, and both the eye of a storm and each of the Virgin Islands are quite small; the odds of a direct strike are therefore very low. The last major hurricane to hit the VI was Marilyn, which was in 1995.
During storm season, tropical waves form off the western coast of Africa. Some will curve up into the central Atlantic; others may track closer to the VI. It takes about ten days for a tropical wave to make it to the VI, which gives us plenty of advance notice. Along the way it may be upgraded to a tropical depression, then a named tropical storm, and in a few cases each year, a hurricane. In nearly all cases, the storm center will pass well north or south of the VI, but if the system is large, we can get heavy rains from its outer bands. Fortunately, these storms move quickly, so one or at most two days of inclement weather is all we get before the sun comes out again.
During tropical storm season (June 1st to November 30th), detailed NHC discussions of any active hurricanes approaching the VI will be available below, in the scrollable “Hurricane Forecast Discussion” text box. For developing or named tropical storms, NHC details are available in the following “Tropical and Developing Storm Activity” section. In the event that a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching the VI, we recommend that you closely monitor additional information at the National Hurricane Center, as well as at Weather Underground. Informative and up to date commentary on active storms is also available at Jeff Master's Blog.
From April to October, high altitude winds can carry dust from the Sahara Desert into the Caribbean. When there is dust in the Virgin Islands, distant views will be hazy. The computer animation below provides a five day forecast for Sahara dust; levels above 20 will make distant views hazy. Fortunately, Sahara dust can clear out as quickly as it arrives. To see how quickly views can go from crisp to hazy (and back again), check out this post. Sahara dust also has its upsides; it plays an important role in suppressing hurricane activity. Over the millennia, dust transport from the Sahara built up the fertile Amazonian rainforest, and iron in the dust fertilized bacteria that built the limestone Great Bahama Bank.
Click start to animate:
For much of the year, the surf at St. John's North Shore beaches is very mild, even lake-like, and swell heights of concern to boaters are moderate (3 to 6 feet). In winter, storms far off at sea can send large swells our way, which will produce rough surf on exposed North Shore beaches such as Hawksnest, Trunk, and Cinnamon. In the summer months, passing tropical storms can briefly have the same effect. Be sure to check the North Shore swell graph before heading out on the water, or planning scuba dives on the North side of St. John.
Swell heights above 8 feet will produce rough surf, and at 10 - 12 feet or higher, Trunk Bay Beach is likely to be closed to swimming. Protected North Shore beaches include Caneel, Maho, and Francis, and any South Shore beaches are also great options when the North Shore seas are running high. The North Shore graph below plots the swell heights at a buoy 170 nautical miles north of St. John for the last 5 days. Spikes in swell height will take about 8 hours to arrive at St. John's north shore beaches, which provides useful advance notice of North Shore rough surf and seas. Note that the swells that reach the North Shore will be reduced in height compared to those at the buoy, due to buffering provided by Jost van Dyke, and the islands and cays to the north of Pillsbury sound.
Much of the description from the North Shore discussion applies to seas and surf along St. John's South Shore, but the seasonality is different; rough seas and surf along St. John's South Shore are more likely in the summer months, when the trade winds shift to a bit south of due east. When the sea are high, you can even surf in some South Shore bays in the summertime! Unlike the North Shore buoy, the South Shore buoy is only 4 nautical miles south of St. John, so its swell height data is essentially real time. If you are planning to boat or dive on St. John's South Shore, it's worth checking this buoy data before heading out on the water.
The graphs below chart the ocean temperature and tides at Lameshur Bay, on St. John's South Shore. Ocean temperatures in shallow waters swing about 2.5°F from early morning to mid-afternoon, when the ocean is at its warmest. Mid-afternoon ocean temperatures range from 81°F in February, to 87°F in September. The ocean stays pretty warm well into December, before ramping down to its "nippier" winter levels.
While St. John lacks any extended landmass to amplify tidal levels, significant tidal currents can occur, especially where adjacent islands such as Great Thatch channel tidal flows. Tidal currents may vary in timing and strength depending on where you are snorkeling. For exposed snorkels such as Waterlemon, please use caution, and return to shore if you encounter strong currents
Before you head out on the water, be sure to check what the sea and sky has in store!
FZNT02 KNHC 191009 HSFAT2 HIGH SEAS FORECAST NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL 1030 UTC MON FEB 19 2018 SUPERSEDED BY NEXT ISSUANCE IN 6 HOURS SEAS GIVEN AS SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT...WHICH IS THE AVERAGE HEIGHT OF THE HIGHEST 1/3 OF THE WAVES. INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT. SECURITE ATLANTIC FROM 07N TO 31N W OF 35W INCLUDING CARIBBEAN SEA AND GULF OF MEXICO SYNOPSIS VALID 0600 UTC MON FEB 19. 24 HOUR FORECAST VALID 0600 UTC TUE FEB 20. 48 HOUR FORECAST VALID 0600 UTC WED FEB 21. .WARNINGS. ...CARIBBEAN GALE WARNING... .FROM 10.5N TO 13N BETWEEN 74W AND 77W NE WINDS 30 TO 35 KT. SEAS 10 TO 14 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 09.5N TO 15N BETWEEN 72W AND 78W NE TO E WINDS 25 TO 30 KT. SEAS 9 TO 11 FT. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 18N E OF 80W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT W OF 67W. ELSEWHERE S OF 16N BETWEEN 76W AND 82W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 9 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT. .12 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 13N BETWEEN 74W AND 77W NE WINDS 25 TO 30 KT. SEAS 10 TO 13 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 70W AND 81W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 9 TO 13 FT. E OF 70W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 16.5N BETWEEN 76W AND 83W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT. .18 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 13N BETWEEN 74W AND 77W NE WINDS 30 TO 35 KT. SEAS 10 TO 14 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 70W AND 82W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 13 FT. E OF 70W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT...AND TO 9 FT IN THE ATLC PASSAGES. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 17N BETWEEN 76W AND 83W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE E OF 78W NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. .24 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 14N BETWEEN 74W AND 77W NE WINDS 30 TO 40 KT. SEAS 10 TO 16 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 70W AND 81W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 13 FT. E OF 70W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT...AND TO 9 FT IN THE ATLC PASSAGES. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 17N BETWEEN 76W AND 83W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE E OF 78W NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. .36 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 13N BETWEEN 73.5W AND 77W NE WINDS 25 TO 30 KT. SEAS 10 TO 14 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 70W AND 83W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 13 FT. E OF 70W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT...AND 8 TO 9 FT IN THE ATLC PASSAGES. N OF 12N BETWEEN 64W AND 70W NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT. WINDWARD PASSAGE E OF 78W NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN E OF 84W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS TO 9 FT IN NE SWELL. .42 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 13N BETWEEN 74W AND 77W NE WINDS 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS 11 TO 15 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 70W AND 83W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 13 FT. E OF 70W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT...AND 8 TO 9 FT IN THE ATLC PASSAGES. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 17N BETWEEN 76W AND 83W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE E OF 78W NE WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS TO 10 FT. .48 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10.5N TO 14N BETWEEN 73.5W AND 77.5W NE WINDS 30 TO 40 KT. SEAS 11 TO 16 FT. ELSEWHERE FROM 10N TO 18N BETWEEN 68W AND 83W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 14 FT. N OF 11N E OF 68W...INCLUDING THE ATLC PASSAGES...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 10 FT...AND 8 TO 9 FT IN THE ATLC PASSAGES. REMAINDER CARIBBEAN S OF 17N BETWEEN 76W AND 84W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. WINDWARD PASSAGE E OF 80W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 10 FT. .SYNOPSIS AND FORECAST. .ATLC S OF 12N E OF 46W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS TO 9 FT IN N SWELL. S OF 20N BETWEEN 50W AND 63W...AND S OF 12N BETWEEN 46W AND 50W...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT. .24 HOUR FORECAST S OF 15N BETWEEN 48W AND 55W...AND S OF 21N BETWEEN 55W AND 70W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT. S OF 11N E OF 48W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS TO 9 FT IN MIXED N AND NE SWELL. .48 HOUR FORECAST FROM 10N TO 19N BETWEEN 50W AND 63W NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 9 FT. ELSEWHERE S OF 19N BETWEEN 50W AND 60W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS TO 9 FT IN MIXED N AND NE SWELL. .ATLC S OF 21N BETWEEN 71W AND 75W...INCLUDING ATLC APPROACH TO WINDWARD PASSAGE...E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT. .24 HOUR FORECAST S OF 21N BETWEEN 72W AND 75W...INCLUDING ATLC APPROACH TO WINDWARD PASSAGE...NE TO E WINDS 25 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT. ELSEWHERE S OF 25N BETWEEN 70W AND 80W E TO SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. .48 HOUR FORECAST S OF 25N BETWEEN 70W AND 80W...INCLUDING ATLC APPROACH TO WINDWARD PASSAGE...NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. .ATLC COLD FRONT FROM 31N61W TO 31N70W THEN STATIONARY TO 31N74W. N OF 30N BETWEEN 50W AND 58W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS TO 9 FT IN NW SWELL. .24 HOUR FORECAST COLD FRONT FROM 31N39W TO 25N53W TO 29N70W. N OF FRONT E OF 43W NW TO N WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 18 FT IN NW SWELL. N OF 29N WITHIN 90 NM SE OF FRONT WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN NW SWELL. N OF FRONT BETWEEN 43W AND 60W N TO NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 19 FT IN NW SWELL. N OF FRONT BETWEEN 60W AND 62W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 9 FT IN N SWELL. .48 HOUR FORECAST WEAKENING COLD FRONT FROM 25N35W TO 20.5N53W TO 24.5N70W. N OF FRONT E OF 40W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 14 TO 24 FT IN NW SWELL. N OF FRONT BETWEEN 40W AND 50W N TO NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 12 TO 23 FT IN N SWELL. FROM 19N TO 27N BETWEEN 50W AND 80W NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 9 TO 17 FT IN N TO NE SWELL E OF 74W. N OF 27N BETWEEN 50W AND 70W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 16 FT IN N SWELL. ELSEWHERE S OF FRONT TO 19N BETWEEN 40W AND 50W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN N SWELL. .42 HOUR CARIBBEAN FORECAST GULF OF HONDURAS S OF 18N W OF 84W E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 8 FT. .48 HOUR FORECAST GULF OF HONDURAS S OF 19N W OF 84W E TO SE WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. .GULF OF MEXICO 18 HOUR FORECAST FROM 23N TO 25N E OF 84W... INCLUDING STRAITS OF FLORIDA...E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 8 FT. .24 HOUR FORECAST FROM 23N TO 27N E OF 89W...INCLUDING STRAITS OF FLORIDA...E TO SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT STRAITS OF FLORIDA. FROM 21.5N TO 25N BETWEEN 89W AND 93W...AND N OF 25N W OF 94.5W...SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT. .48 HOUR FORECAST FROM 23N TO 26N E OF 85W...INCLUDING STRAITS OF FLORIDA...E TO SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT. FROM 20N TO 26N BETWEEN 89W AND 94W SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS TO 8 FT. .REMAINDER OF AREA WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT. $$ .FORECASTER STRIPLING. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER.
The "CocoPlum Cam" is located near the boundary between Coconuts and Plumeria, and provides an immediate visual check on the weather, along with a great live view out over Pillsbury Sound. Click on the "Play" icon to start live video. Moving your cursor over the video feed below will show controls to pause the video, or expand it to full screen. To return to the web page, simply hit the "Escape key", or click on the "Toggle full screen" icon. Our villas are located on the highest westward facing ridge on St. John, and provide spectacular sunset views. Be sure to check back around sunset time, or to catch your ferry in transit!
Fortunately, Trunk Bay is the only one of over 35 beaches on St. John that hosts cruise ship passengers. If this external link indicates that a number of cruise ships will be docking in St. Thomas on any given day, you should probably plan your visit to Trunk Bay for early morning, or late afternoon.
St. John draws more than its share of remarkable mega-yachts, especially in high season. This external link allows you to check in on any large vessels within VI waters. Hovering over any vessel symbol will reveal its name, speed, and bearing. Clicking on its symbol will pull up an incredible amount of additional information on the vessel.
On many evenings and mornings in the Virgin Islands, nature puts on some pretty spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Sunsets are best viewed from the western, Cruz Bay side of St. John, while sunrises are best viewed from the eastern, Coral Bay side. We're a bit biased, of course, but are convinced that Gifft Hill, and especially our villas, offer the finest sunset panoramas on St. John. The sunset (or sunrise, for you east end early risers) show can last for nearly an hour, and some planning is required to ensure that you leave the beach (or Happy Hour bar) in time to find yourselves properly ensconced in the deck chairs or hot tub, libation in hand, shortly before the show begins. That brings us to the plots below, which tell you both when and where sunsets and sunrises will take place.
In the same vein, the plots below show you when moonset and moonrise will occur, along with the moon's phases throughout the year. Since many visitors book their stays well in advance, buttons allow you to view charts for both the current and the following year. Weeks with a full moon can be dazzling, but weeks around the new moon are best for stargazing, under St. John's very dark skies. In the winter months, if you have a flashlight and are sure of foot, you can view the full moon rise shortly after the sun sets over the water, from the cliffs at the end of the Ram Head trail. For a lower exertion full moon experience, stake out a seat by the water and a plateful of roast pork at Miss Lucy's, and watch the full moon rise, shimmering over Coral Bay and beyond.
Hover over the graphs below to view the exact Sun & Moon details for your chosen date. Note that since the moon's cycle is less than a month, there will be one day every month with no moonrise, and another with no moonset.
Planets are slow-moving critters, relatively speaking, so one forecast per year is all you need. We're not early-riser types, so the forecasts below are for the evening sky, and only for those planets that you can see with the naked eye.
The Virgin Islands can serve up some pretty spectacular rainbows, but it's important to know when and where to look for them. The basic rule is that the center of the rainbow will always be 180 degrees away from the sun. This means that you will never see a natural rainbow at midday, because 180 degrees from the midday sun would be directly underground. The only time to see a full rainbow is either in the west, in the first hour or two after sunrise, or in the east, an hour or two before sunset. It also takes the right sort of passing cloud or brief tropical rain shower, but we have lots of those to improve the odds. The above charts for Sunrise and Sunset times and directions can also help. So, on the Cruz Bay side of things, look to the west for rainbows with your early morning coffee, and on the Coral Bay side, look east with your Happy Hour beverage. And be sure to look for a double rainbow, where a fainter copy of the glorious original appears about 10 degrees above it, and with a reversed order of colors.
You can also look for Moonbows. These are a lot fainter, with barely discernible colors, but can be really cool when you catch one. Look opposite a rising or setting full moon, with opposite rules to the above rainbow forecast: look west from Cruz Bay when the full moon rises in the east, an hour or two after sunset, and look east from Coral Bay as the full moon sets in the west, an hour or two before dawn.
Early Morning Double Rainbow over Trunk Bay