Caribbean Weather (Bermuda High)

You might find yourself in the Caribbean on vacation or your first flying job may see you island hopping on a Twin Otter or Dash-8. For me, it recently entailed intermediate sailing lessons.

You may read this month's enRoute and you will find my column on this very topic. And better get a copy, this month marks my last contribution.

St Lucia 2017.jpeg

Captain D at the Helm. Actually this boat had dual helms just like an airplane.

Below is my enRoute submission.

Caribbean weather                                               

A semi-permanent high-pressure system, called the Bermuda High, sits just north of the Caribbean, but dominates the weather southward. Air moves clockwise and outward spreading northeast to east winds throughout the Caribbean called the Trade Winds or Northeasterlies. Within this high, air also slowly subsides downward hindering cloud development with little rain occurring. It’s why your vacation weather is usually a carbon copy of the day before with some puffy white cumulus cloud dominating. Sometimes a little shower is thrown into the equation due to daytime heating.

Fact. The peak month for a hurricane is September flanked by August and October.  February is almost entirely void of these storms in the Caribbean.

Fact. The term trade winds stem from the early fourteenth century term 'trade,' meaning "path" or "track.” Many think it is because of the ensuing trade due to the favourable sailing winds.

Fact. The high-pressure belt itself is associated with light winds and deemed the Horse Latitudes. During sailing of yore, ships would lighten their load and the demand on water by throwing horses overboard.

Fact. Winds in southern Canada and northern USA are from the west called prevailing westerlies. But when landing in the Caribbean pilots will be landing into easterly-northeasterly winds. (Remember winds are named from where they are coming from).

Fact. Captain Doug will be learning to sail in St Lucia this February capitalizing on the northeast trade winds on route to Martinique.

Fact. The east side (windward) of the Caribbean islands will encounter stronger, more direct winds and higher waves.

Fact. At the southern portion of the Caribbean (about 10 to 15 degrees north of the equator) lies the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). Because of hot, humid and converging air it is where daily thunderstorms prevail. Hence the rain forest area.

Number: 29: Average daytime temperature in Celsius for the Caribbean in February.

30: Approximate degrees of north latitude where the Bermuda and Azores high-pressure belts reside. This latitude also marks the world’s deserts north and south of the equator.

9 to 22: Approximate south and north of the Caribbean boundary in degrees north. Bermuda does not make up the Caribbean.

My rendition trying to show my editor how winds blow outward and clockwise around a high pressure system.

My rendition trying to show my editor how winds blow outward and clockwise around a high pressure system.

View from Captain D's room on a Barbados layover. Not bad, eh?

View from Captain D's room on a Barbados layover. Not bad, eh?

Captain D parked on the ramp. Even though Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean, the high pressure belt that originates here is responsible for the weather to the south. Note the infamous Bermuda shorts on the facing wall.

Captain D parked on the ramp. Even though Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean, the high pressure belt that originates here is responsible for the weather to the south. Note the infamous Bermuda shorts on the facing wall.

And to prove the winds mostly blow from the east or close to it. Here are some recent METARS.

Barbados TBPB 082200Z 10020KT 9999 SCT018 26/21 Q1014 NOSIG
St Lucia TLPL 082200Z 10020KT 9999 BKN026 27/21 Q1015 NOSIG
San Juan Puerto Rico TJSJ 082156Z 12008KT 10SM FEW035 29/19