St. John, US Virgin Islands

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, or during storm season.

Satellite Weather Loops

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24 hour loop; subtract 4 hours for local time

VI Weather Basics

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.

Recent Weather

"What's Past is Prologue"

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.

Air Temperature & Dew Point (°F)

Wind Speed and Gusts (mph)

Wind Direction

Relative Humidity (%)

Rainfall and Daily Total (in)

Barometric Pressure (Inches of Mercury)

Data source: Plumeria's weather station

Five Day Forecast

Shower Icons? Don't Panic!

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:

Tropical Storm Forecast

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.







This is the last NHC graphical update for the 2016 tropical storm season. Coverage will resume on June 1st, 2017, or earlier, as conditions warrant.

During tropical storm season (June 1st to November 30th), the Tropical Storm Activity section below will provide details on any active storms in the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea. In the event that a tropical storm is approaching the VI, we recommend that you closely monitor the forecast cone 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.

Tropical Storm Activity

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Sahara Dust Forecast

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:

Rough Seas & Surf Forecast

North Shore

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.

5-day plot - Significant Wave Height at 41043
 

South Shore

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.

5-day plot - Significant Wave Height at 41043
 

Ocean Temperatures & Tides

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

Ocean Temperature (°F)

Data source: NOAA.gov

Tide Levels and Predictions (feet)

Data source: NOAA.gov

Marine Forecast

Before you head out on the water, be sure to check what the sea and sky has in store!

FZNT02 KNHC 270821
HSFAT2

HIGH SEAS FORECAST
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1030 UTC THU APR 27 2017

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 THU APR 27.
24 HOUR FORECAST VALID 0600 UTC FRI APR 28.
48 HOUR FORECAST VALID 0600 UTC SAT APR 29.

.WARNINGS.

.NONE.

.SYNOPSIS AND FORECAST.

.ATLC WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 28N35W TO 30N40W TO 31N48W TO
31N35W TO 28N35W N TO NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT.
.24 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 24N35W TO 24N43W TO 
31N43W TO 31N35W TO 24N35W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT 
IN NE SWELL.
.48 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 21N35W TO 22N44W TO 
31N44W TO 31N35W TO 21N35W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT 
IN NE SWELL.

.CARIBBEAN WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 16N85W TO 16N86W TO 17N86W TO
16N87W TO 18N87W TO 18N84W TO 16N85W SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS
LESS THAN 8 FT.
.24 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 16N85W TO 17N86W TO
16N87W TO 18N87W TO 18N85W TO 16N85W...INCLUDING GULF OF
HONDURAS... E TO SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT.
.48 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 16N86W TO 16N88W TO
20N88W TO 20N85W TO 16N86W...INCLUDING GULF OF HONDURAS... E TO
SE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 FT.

.CARIBBEAN 24 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 12N73W TO
11N76W TO 14N76W TO 13N71W TO 12N73W...INCLUDING WITHIN 90 NM OF
COAST OF COLOMBIA... E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT.
.48 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 11N75W TO 11N78W TO
15N78W TO 15N73W TO 13N70W TO 11N75W...INCLUDING WITHIN 90 NM OF
COAST OF COLOMBIA... NE TO E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 8 TO 9 FT.

.GULF OF MEXICO COLD FRONT FROM 29.5N91W TO 26.5N97W. WITHIN 
AREA BOUNDED BY 27N96W TO 27N97W TO 28N97W TO 29N96W TO 29N94W TO
28N94W TO 27N96W N TO NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT.
.06 HOUR FORECAST COLD FRONT FROM 30N88W TO 25N97W. WINDS 20 KT 
OR LESS. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT.

.GULF OF MEXICO 36 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 26N90W
TO 26N93W TO 28N93W TO 28N90W TO 26N90W SE TO S WINDS 20 TO 25
KT. SEAS 8 FT.
.48 HOUR FORECAST WITHIN AREA BOUNDED BY 21N89W TO 21N97W TO
27N97W TO 29N95W TO 29N91W TO 26N89W TO 21N89W...INCLUDING
WITHIN 60 NM OF COAST OF VERACRUZ AND WITHIN 60 NM OF COAST OF
CAMPECHE... SE WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 FT.

.REMAINDER OF AREA WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS LESS THAN 8 FT.

$$
.FORECASTER CHRISTENSEN. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER.


Visual Weather — The CocoPlum Cam

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!

 

Trunk Bay Tourist Forecast

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.

Trunk Bay Tourist Forecast

MegaYacht Forecast

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.

MegaYacht Forecast

Sunrise/Sunset & Moonrise/Moonset Forecast

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.

2017 Sunrise/Sunset & Moonrise/Moonset Forecast

2018 Sunrise/Sunset & Moonrise/Moonset Forecast

Planetary Forecast

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.

2017 Calendar Year

Mercury:
This planet can be seen for several weeks at a time, but only a few times each year. Look for it low in the west, shortly after sunset. Dates in 2017 include the last week of March through the first week of April, mid-July, and late November.
Venus:
Venus is that dazzlingly bright "star" in the west after sunset as 2017 begins, reaching peak brilliance in mid-February. It sets earlier and earlier after then, and vanishes from the evening sky in the third week of March. Alas, Venus will then be visible only before dawn for the remainder of 2017.
Earth:
Look downward, mid-way between your two feet.
Mars:
Blood-red Mars sets in the southwest around 9 PM as 2017 begins, and sets earlier as the year goes on, finally vanishing from the evening sky in July.
Jupiter:
Jupiter rises in the east after sunset in March of 2017, is directly overhead at sunset in June, and is visible in the west through October, remaining in the constellation Virgo all year. Jupiter’s four moons are easy to see in a small telescope, and change their position from night to night.
Saturn:
This planet, with its beautiful system of rings, rises in the southeast in May of 2017. Saturn is visible all summer in the south, above the constellation Sagittarius, and remains visible until mid-December, when it sets in the southwest.

2018 Calendar Year

Mercury:
This planet can be seen for several weeks at a time, but only a few times each year. Look for it low in the west, shortly after and ~ 20 degrees above the setting sun. Dates to catch Mercury in 2018 include mid-March, the first three weeks of July, and the first half of November.
Venus:
Venus moves into the evening sky in mid-March, when it sets shortly after and just above the sun. For the next five months, it climbs higher in the western sky, and sets later and later. During September, it begins to set earlier, but will be at its most dazzling brightness. By mid October, it will be lost in the setting sun, as it laps Earth on the inside, and moves into the morning sky.
Earth:
Look downward, mid-way between your two feet.
Mars:
Blood-red Mars rises in the southeast around 10 PM starting in mid-July, and rises earlier in the evening through the rest of the year. It can be seen in the south above Saturn, in the constellations Capricorn and Aquarius, and remains visible high in the south through the end of 2018.
Jupiter:
Jupiter rises in the southeast around 10 PM in mid-April, is high in the south during July and August, and is visible in the southwest after sunset during September and October. Jupiter remains in the constellation Libra throughout 2018. Jupiter’s four moons are easy to see in a small telescope, and change their position from night to night.
Saturn:
This planet with its beautiful system of rings rises in the southeast starting in July. Saturn is visible all summer in the south, within the constellation Sagittarius (just to the east of Scorpius), and remains visible until early December, when it sets in the southwest after sunset.

Rainbow Forecast

The Virgin Islands can serve up some pretty spectacular rainbows, but its 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.

Enjoy!

Double rainbow over Trunk Bay

Early Morning Double Rainbow over Trunk Bay

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