The United States Virgin Islands have a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw), with warm to hot temperatures throughout the year. The islands are an unincorporated territory of the United States and constitute a major part of the Virgin Islands archipelago in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico lies 40 miles west of the islands, while Florida is approximately 1100 miles to the northwest. The location in the tropics, proximity to the North Atlantic Ocean, engulfment by large water bodies, and easterly winds mainly influence the climate.
The United States Virgin Islands lie 18°N of the equator near the boundary of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix are the three biggest islands in the archipelago, which consists of many smaller islands and cays. Much of the landscape is hilly, and the islands are of volcanic origin. Charlotte Amalie, the capital in Saint Thomas, is a natural, deepwater harbor. The topography is rugged and mountainous, with rare patches of leveled land. Crown Mountain on Saint Thomas has the highest point at 474 meters in the United States Virgin Islands. The coastline of 117 miles, along with pristine white, sandy beaches, and coral reefs, makes the islands a desirable tourist destination.
Temperatures vary little over the year in the United States Virgin Islands. The two main seasons comprise a wet one from April to November and a dry one from December to March. The average high temperatures reach a peak of 90°F (32.2°C) from July to September, and the average low temperatures drop to the lowest of 72°F (22.2°C) in January. The proximity to the equator keeps days and nights of equal duration. Seawater temperatures remain in the comfortable range of 79°F (26.1°C) to 83°F (28.3°C) during the majority of the year. Fresh sea air moderates the temperatures, so that periods of extreme hot and cold weather are rare.
The annual precipitation in the United States Virgin Islands is an ample 38" (965.2mm), with the highest rainfall between September to November. The wet season is the period of the highest frequency of storms and receives three-fourths of the annual rainfall. The annual sunshine is an ample 3000 hours, with sunny days throughout the year. Easterly trade winds moderate the humidity and keep the conditions enjoyable. Tropical storms and hurricanes run amok from June to November.
The highest temperature on record for the United States Virgin Islands is 99°F (37.2°C), while the record lowest temperature is 52°F (11.1°C).
The best time to visit United States Virgin Islands
The best time to visit the United States Virgin Islands is from December to April. The dry season sees a significant drop in rainfall, and the conditions are calm in the absence of storms. The heat quotient is at the lowest of the year, mainly due to the low humidity than the little dip in temperatures. Light to moderate-speed winds keep the conditions pleasant, and the bright sunshine gives plenty of time to spend outdoors. Seawaters are calm in the Caribbean after the hurricane season, which makes it the best time to swim, sail, and cruise in the mild waters.
The worst time to visit United States Virgin Islands
The worst time to visit the United States Virgin Islands is from August to October in the wet season. The highest temperatures of the year, along with a rise in humidity, make the conditions oppressive. Additionally, the hurricane season adds to the uncertainty of the weather, with a high probability of storms. Thunderstorms are frequent in the afternoons, with lightning and heavy rain. The usually calm ocean waters are turbulent, and it is prudent to stay away from the sea during the periods of storms.
The United States Virgin Islands are prone to thunderstorms and hurricanes from July to November. Wind-speeds above 100mph (160.9km/h) and heavy rainfall cause large scale damage to the environment. Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused substantial damage in 2017, and signify the frequent danger of these storms to the islands. Earthquakes occasionally occur, and the threat of a resultant tsunami always exists near the coast. The islands have a shortage of natural freshwater sources. The result is severe droughts during the dry season. Frequent floods pose a threat during periods of intense rainfall.
Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in the United States Virgin Islands, with average temperatures in the mild range of 72°F (22.2°C) to 85°F (29.4°C). Temperatures are slightly lower in the northern islands where the rainfall is more than the southern islands, such as Saint Croix. January receives an average of 2.4" (61mm) of rainfall during 14 wet days in the month. The New Year signals the peak tourist season on the islands when the North American continent is severely cold. The bright sunshine and long days are favorable for the carnival in Saint Croix. The calm waters offer the best conditions of the year to many regattas around the islands. Evenings are comfortable with light breezes from the sea, but the idea of wearing a jacket pays dividends. The United States Virgin Islands are a hotspot for tourists in January and is the time when the accommodation rates are the highest of the year.
Weather in February
February is a relatively dry month in the United States Virgin Islands with 1.5" (38.1mm) of rainfall. The blue skies are a great motivation to stay outdoors, either on the water or on the white sandy beaches. Mornings are usually the best time on the sand, followed by evenings. The average temperatures are in the comfortable range of 73°F (22.8°C) to 85°F (29.4°C), with the peak temperature during the day below 88°F (31.1°C). Night views of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor with numerous ships and boats of all sizes are amazing in the background of clear skies and gently swaying waves. A light jacket is useful during the evenings when wandering in the open areas. The average seawater temperatures are at a warm 79°F (26.1°C), which makes swimming, sailing, and other water activities, an excellent proposition. February is busy for most of the businesses in the United States Virgin Islands with the onslaught of tourists.
Weather in March
March is the driest month of the year in the United States Virgin Islands with only 1.4" (35.6mm) of rain. The average temperatures are in the comfortable 73°F (22.8°C) to 86°F (30°C) range, and the heat index is bearable due to the moderate humidity. Early morning is the best time to visit the beaches and enjoy the mild waters lapping towards the shore. The sun shines at least for 8 hours every day, but there are many cool places to visit, such as the mangrove lagoon in Saint Thomas. Mangrove trees offer pleasant shade from the bright sunlight. The lagoon hosts a diverse species of birds and fish in its soothing waters and even attracts night kayaking tours. Lightweight clothes, along with a scarf for evening breezes, adds to the comfort. Expect occasional showers in the afternoon. The conditions are pleasant in the United States Virgin Islands in March.
Weather in April
April brings a transition from the dry to the wet season in United States Virgin Islands. The extended dry periods give way to intermittent patches of moderate precipitation. The average rainfall rises to 2.7" (68.6mm) in April as the skies become partly cloudy. Day temperatures hit 87°F (30.6°C), while nights are cozy and mostly remain below 74°F (23.3°C). Saint John's is a little cooler than the southern island of Saint Croix. Seawater temperatures are mild at an average of 81°F (27.2°C). The calm waters of Trunk Bay on Saint John are perfect for youngsters to snorkel through the Underwater Trail of coral and fish. The islands are hilly and have plenty of forest cover that draws adventurers to the interior, away from the coast. Expect showers during the afternoons. The United States Virgin Islands have pleasant weather in April, but see fewer crowds than the peak tourist season.
Weather in May
May sees the return of the wet season in the United States Virgin Islands, as the humidity increases. The average temperatures register in the 76°F (24.4°C) to 88°F (31.1°C) range, with a significant rise in the heat index. The easterly winds, which chased the cloud cover earlier, are present only for short periods, resulting in partly cloudy skies. Precipitation is more on the windward side of the mountains and the northern islands of the archipelago. Drive to the top of the mountain to view the beauty of Magens Bay before the sunrays become intense. The waters are easy for swimming with the angle of the shore and the most photogenic among the islands. Sweatshirts are better during the day to provide relief from the stifling heat. Wear plenty of sun protection during the day on the beaches and open lands. May is a perfect time for budget travelers to visit the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the hurricane season in the United States Virgin Islands. The probability of a tropical storm increases exponentially with the advance of the season. Thunderstorms occasionally occur in the islands and contribute significantly to the 2.5" (63.5mm) of rainfall in the month. The average high temperature reaches 89°F (31.7°C) during the day, while the nights remain register slightly up at 78°F (25.6°C). The waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea regulate the temperatures of the islands. The coastal areas see a rise in humidity, and the heat is oppressive at times. The interior forests and hills have several camping sites that are readily available compared to the busy engagements of the dry season. Sunset cruises are a great way to experience the warm seawaters amid the setting sun on the distant horizon in the United States Virgin Islands in June.
Weather in July
July is a hot month in the United States Virgin Islands, with average temperatures in the range of 78°F (25.6°C) to 90°F (32.2°C). The wet season advances across the entire region, to bring 2.9" (73.7mm) of rainfall in the month. Despite the rain, there is ample sunshine that lasts for at least 9 hours during the 13-hour days. Patches of clouds quickly bring showers and give way to the scorching sun. Stay hydrated, wear adequate sun protection, and remain in the shade during peak sunshine hours. The southern islands, as well as the western parts of the islands, are comparatively less rainy and calmer than the rest. Hiking paths are open for adventurers who wish to explore the beautiful waterfalls of the interior. The islands are a refuge to diverse species of flora and fauna, and the waters host many marine species. The waters are fantastic for sailing and surfing in June in the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in August
August is the hottest month of the year in the United States Virgin Islands, with the average temperatures in the range of 78°F (25.6°C) to 90°F (32.2°C). Many places, including Charlotte Amalie, see daily maximums above 91°F (32.8°C) at the peak of the summer. Most of the tourists have left the region in anticipation of heat and rough weather. August is the worst offender in terms of tropical storms and hurricanes. The precipitation is to the tune of 3.8" (96.5mm), with heavy spells of rain. However, the sunlight lasts for at least 9 hours every day, and the sun rays are intense. The moderate number of visitors find museums and distilleries to their liking during periods of heavy rain. Keep an eye on the weather for storms. Expect the heat to remain oppressive during the month. August offers plenty of cheap flights and accommodations in the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in September
September is the wettest month in the United States Virgin Islands with 5.6" (142.2mm) of rain. The conditions are hot and humid, although it rains for an average of 16 days in the month. The sunlight is oppressive due to the increase in the humidity, and it is imperative to wear sunscreen. The average temperatures are in the 78°F (25.6°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) range, with very few days above 95°F (35°C). The mountain slopes provide some respite from the heat but at the cost of frequent thunderstorms and rain. Wind speeds are mostly below 20mph (32.2km/h) except during storms. Have a look at the weather forecast before planning overnight camping trips. The wet season offers spectacular views of lush greenery amid waterfalls in the interior and the beautiful coasts from the mountain tops. September is usually a less popular month to visit the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in October
October lies in the eye of the wet season in the United States Virgin Islands with at least 15 rainy days. The average precipitation is to the tune of 5.4" (137.2mm), with periods of heavy rain. Day temperatures drop slightly, to register a high of 89°F (31.7°C), while nights dip to 77°F (25°C), on average. Local storms in the Caribbean add to the possibility of hurricanes and often throw a spanner in planned vacations. Showers are intense during the storms, but it is uncommon for them to last over several days. The sun is always looking for an opportunity to break the cloud cover, and the sunshine averages a healthy 8 hours per day during the month. The usually calm waters are prone to waves of unusual height, which makes water activities risky. Wear a jacket or carry an umbrella during outdoor visits. Cruises receive a lukewarm response during October in the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in November
November is the last month of the wet season in the United States Virgin Islands with an average rainfall of 5.3" (134.6mm). The average temperatures drop slightly to register in the 75°F (23.9°C) to 87°F (30.6°C) range. The easterly trade winds are still weak, and the skies are partly cloudy. Tropical storms bring heavy rainfall and disturbances in the seawaters. Although the water temperatures are below 83°F (28.3°C), there is a shortage of tourists who wish to charter boats. Buck Island is a go-to spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, with the wet season on the wane. Expect plenty of sunshine during the day, even though it rains one day out of two. The barrier reef is full of tropical fish that wade in the clear waters, and the land is home to turtles and pelicans. Budget travelers find the second half of November easy on the wallet in the United States Virgin Islands.
Weather in December
December begins the transition to pleasant weather in the United States Virgin Islands. The skies remain blue for the majority of the time, even though the month receives 3" (76.2mm) of precipitation. The average temperatures dip in the 74°F (23.3°C) to 86°F (30°C) and the conditions are comfortable due to the drop in humidity. The islands see a renewed interest from visitors who wish to escape the harsh winter of North America. The sunny days welcome people who yearn for the warmth of the tropics and offer extended hours for outdoor explorations. Seawater temperatures are mild and favorable for swimming and other water activities. The frequent thunderstorms subside significantly in December, and the atmosphere is serene. Winds are favorable for sailing over the calm waters and visit offshore destinations several miles away. Light clothes with a jacket, and a scarf for the wind, are apt while sailing on the sea. December sees the arrival of a large number of tourists in the United States Virgin Islands.