Trade Winds: The Virgin Islands Weather Engine
The Trade Winds are the weather phenomena that occurs in the subtropical and tropical latitudes. They form a band around the Earth from latitudes 30 N to 30 S. They roughly travel from the north-east to the south-west in the northern hemisphere, and south-east to north-west in the southern hemisphere. It was these winds that allowed the Europeans colonizers to swiftly travel back and forth to the Americas. The Trade Winds help give the Virgin Islands, and the rest of the Caribbean, their wonderful mild climate which has help create our tourism industry.
Here is a crash course on the science of the Trade Winds. The Equator is the closest part of the Earth to the sun. Therefore the atmosphere is hottest at the equator. The air at the equator is heated and expands. This expansion makes the atmosphere less dense around the equator. Now the colder, denser air from either side of the equator rushes into this constantly forming low pressure zone. The chain reaction of the air flowing toward the equator in this way causes the Trade Winds. This is extremely simplified; a detailed explanation could take a while.
The Trade Winds do lots of things for the Virgin Islands' weather. They can literally blow the 'bad' weather right out, or into our skies. The Trade Winds carry air from northern Africa over thousands of miles of open ocean, right over the Virgin Islands and beyond. The winds move quickly, around 12 miles per hour. This means that when 'bad' weather forms, is is usually not long lived. This is good for our visitors, who come to see the bright blue sky, feel the wonderful breezes, and bask in the warm weather. Sometimes, they are not always a blessing. The phenomena that creates the Trade Winds also creates hurricanes! The Trade Winds can also blow rain clouds right past us when we need them most! They also can bring with them the Sahara Dust, which can create a haze that sticks around for weeks!
However, for those of us living in the Virgin Islands, we know that nine times out of ten the Trade Winds are an amazing thing. The stunning clouds, fresh air, Caribbean breezes, and our tourism are greatly tied to the Trade Winds. So this short article is in honor of this wonderful weather pattern. Thank you Trade Winds!
Always take a moment of you day to remember to deeply breath in that fresh Virgin Island air!