Wake Island has a tropical climate (Köppen climate classification Aw), with hot and humid temperatures throughout the year. The tiny island is part of the United States Minor Outlying Islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, between Midway and Guam. The V-shaped atoll lies just 19°N north of the equator and receives overhead sunshine most of the year. The island's time zone is the farthest east in the United States, approximately 24 hours ahead of the mainland. The tropical location and the surrounding ocean waters are the chief factors that influence the climate.
Wake Island consists of three islets, a lagoon, and a barrier reef. The largest, Wake Islet, lies to the southeast, while Peale is in the north and Wilkes on the south. A lagoon, with an average depth of 5 meters, separates the islets along with a reef. The lagoon waters are calm and boast of diverse species of fish. The island has numerous trees, shrubs typical of the tropical Pacific islands, and white, sandy beaches. The terrain is full of scrub forests up to 5 meters high, the landscape is rocky, and consists of tropical trees, such as the Tournefortia. The island lacks freshwater sources. The average elevation is at sea level, with the highest elevation at 6 meters above the sea level.
Wake Island has two main seasons, a wet one from April to November and a dry one from December to March. The average high temperatures reach a peak of 88°F (31.1°C) from July to September, while the average low temperatures drop to 72°F (22.2°C) in February. Temperatures vary little, and the maximum change in average temperatures over the year is 6°F (-14.4°C). Northeasterly trade winds are active in the dry season, while high-speed winds above 100mph (160.9km/h) blow during the onslaught of tropical storms. The typhoon season lasts from June to November and brings heavy rain and violent winds.
The annual precipitation in Wake Island is an ample 36" (914.4mm), although a significant part occurs during storms. August to October is the wettest period of the year and contributes to 50% of the yearly rainfall. The sun always smiles on the islands and shines for at least 3000 hours annually. The humidity increases during the wet months when the wind speeds are the lowest. Seawater temperatures remain above 80°F (26.7°C) on average over the year. Temperature extremes are rare on the land due to the surrounding large body of ocean water.
The best time to visit Wake Island
The best time to visit Wake Island is from December to March when the heat is tolerable. The temperatures remain mostly below 85°F (29.4°C) during the day, with a moderate level of humidity. The intensity of the sunrays is at the lowest of the year during December and January. The driest period occurs from December to February, which keeps the skies clear and the days sunny. The waters are calm and mild in the absence of the storms that are common in the wet season.
The worst time to visit Wake Island
The worst time to visit Wake Island is from August to October in the wet season. The precipitation is at its peak, and the frequency of storms is the highest during the period. The rise in humidity and cloud cover increases the heat index. Conditions become oppressive to people from temperate regions as the temperatures rise to the highest of the year. Tropical storms disturb the usually calm waters surrounding the islands, and occasionally even the lagoon waters.
Wake Island is prone to thunderstorms and typhoons from June to November. Wind speeds reach over 150mph (241.4km/h), and severe rainfall makes the conditions challenging. The seas are rough during the squalls and the visibility limits to short distances. A category five super typhoon in August 2006 drove high-impact waves directly into the lagoon, causing significant damage. Typhoons cause major damage to non-reinforced structures on the island. The island is susceptible to droughts with no sources of freshwater.
Weather in January
January is the driest month of the year in Wake Island with only 1.2" (30.5mm) of rainfall. The conditions are pleasant, with the average temperatures in the 73°F (22.8°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) range. The skies are blue, as the winds chase away any stray clouds. The lagoon is a perfect example of tropical beauty, with clear, shallow waters that are fit for swimming throughout the year. Mid-mornings are apt to dive into the waters and explore the diverse variety of tropical fish. The horizon is far and clear, and the softly lapping waters offer a taste of the tropical paradise. The ample sunlight keeps up the spirits of the few visitors who can easily navigate the islands on foot. Wear sturdy shoes, as the island is rocky, and the coral formations have sharp edges. January is one of the best times to visit Wake Island, with the least possibility of storms.
Weather in February
February is the coldest month of the year in Wake Island, with the average temperatures in a steady 72°F (22.2°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) range. The conditions are pleasant, even though the sunshine is bright and lasts for at least 8 hours a day. The afternoons are usually the time when the waves remain at the farthest distance from the sandy shores. The low tide exposes huge coral rocks that submerge during the period of high tide. The lagoon waters are serene and enhance the tropical beauty of the islands. Small boats and kayaks can easily float through the calm waters that surround the islands. Many types of birds and animals roam freely on the islands as they have little to fear due to the restrictions imposed on non-military persons to visit the island. February is an excellent time to bathe in the warm rays of the tropical sun on Wake Island.
Weather in March
March is a dry month in Wake Island, with the sun slowly returning to its full intensity after the mild winter. The average precipitation is to the tune of 2.2" (55.9mm), with moderate spells of rain. The temperatures are in the agreeable range of 73°F (22.8°C) to 83°F (28.3°C), with clear skies amid low water vapor in the atmosphere. Wind speeds remain in the modest 5 to 15mph (24.1km/h) and rarely cause trouble. Evenings often experience a light breeze from the sea, and the sunset is late due to extended hours of twilight. Nights are great for stargazing, with the availability of vast and clear skies on the island. Watch out for the abundant number of hermit crabs in the waters and the soft sand past sunset. March is mostly calm in Wake Island except for an occasional temperate storm that can approach the atoll.
Weather in April
April sees a significant increase in the intensity of the sunrays in Wake Island and mostly clear skies. It rains for an average of 17 days in the month, but the showers rarely last for extended periods. The average temperatures remain in the range of 73°F (22.8°C) to 84°F (28.9°C), with hot days and mild nights at the service of the inhabitants. The flat terrain is easy for walking except for sharp rocks and corals that lie in the way. Thunderstorms are usually scarce in April, so the resident population of birds and small animals roam freely on the island. The white sand is strewn with numerous small rocks and pebbles that make it challenging to reach the shore from a few of the sides. For the few visitors that receive permission to visit the island, a light sweatshirt is suitable during the day. April is a peaceful time to visit Wake Island.
Weather in May
May is hot in Wake Island, with the average temperatures in the 75°F (23.9°C) to 86°F (30°C) range. The cloud cover is sparse, and the sun switches to scorching mode. The radiation from the sun reaches dangerous proportions by afternoon, and a sun hat is mandatory to remain cool on the coast. Some palm trees provide shade a little away from the shoreline, but the island is generally short of shady trees. The lagoon is the best way to beat the heat, and the water temperatures remain mild and comfortable. The supply of fresh ocean air is at a high during the morning and evening hours, which makes it pleasant to utilize those periods for outdoor musings. The precipitation is moderate to the tune of 1.7" (43.2mm) in the month. Light summer clothing is the routine wear for Wake Island, and May is not an exception.
Weather in June
June is hot in Wake Island as the beginning of the wet season sees an increase in rainfall. The precipitation averages 2.3" (58.4mm) in the month, with the possibility of rain every day. The warm sea breeze does not allow the night temperatures to drop significantly. The average temperatures are in the 77°F (25°C) to 88°F (31.1°C), but the days remain mostly below 90°F (32.2°C). The reef has calm and clear waters that are particularly interesting to snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts due to the abundant number of tropical fish. The storm season sees lightning and thunder accompanied by rain. The daily sunshine reaches a peak of 10 hours, and the daylight lasts over 13 hours. Only a modest number of military support personnel remain on the island during the summer. Wake Island is generally not in the itinerary of tour planners in June.
Weather in July
July is hot and humid in Wake Island as the average temperatures register in the 77°F (25°C) to 88°F (31.1°C). It is the period of thunderstorms in the region, with squalls churning the usually calm waters. However, tropical storms usually clear in short periods, and the skies rarely remain cloudy for long periods. The rainfall is up to 4" (101.6mm) in July, mainly due to storm activity. Showers routinely occur in the afternoon, but a few morning instances of rain are not out of the question. The 10-hour sunshine is the standard feature of the month, as are the 13 hour days. The picture of the bright sun slowly dipping below the horizon, in the background of the ocean, remains a beautiful memory for a long time. Night rat hunting remains a popular sport when the skies are clear. A visit to Wake Island is usually avoidable in July.
Weather in August
August begins a harsh period in Wake Island, with thundering typhoons, heavy rain, heat, and humidity. The wettest month of the year receives an average of 6.2" (157.5mm) of precipitation, thanks to frequent thunderstorms. The average temperatures are in the high range of 77°F (25°C) to 88°F (31.1°C), but the increased humidity makes the conditions oppressive. Wind speeds often rise in the wake of the storms and high-speeds are standard during these events. The migratory birds seek the shelter of the interior when the seas become rough. The lagoon waters that are usually calm become turbulent during the period of typhoons. The best thing to do for the resident population is to wait for the fresh supplies of food that come to the island every two weeks. The atoll receives plenty of sunshine, even in the wettest months. August is one of the worst times to visit Wake Island.
Weather in September
September is torrid in Wake Island, with the temperatures in the average 77°F (25°C) to 88°F (31.1°C) zone amid heavy rainfall. The days are mostly sunny except for periods of rough weather, while the nights remain warm. The island is short in mountains and hills that can have a bearing on the climate. The precipitation is to the tune of 5" (127mm) during 19 wet days in the month. The sea temperatures reach the highest average of 84°F (28.9°C) of the year, but the waters remain mild. Migratory birds often seek the shelter of the islands during their long journey across the ocean. There are plenty of patches of calm weather when it is possible to explore the islands on foot, bike, or boat. The atoll is a wildlife refuge and sees visits from researchers who study birds, animals, marine life, and the environment. It is prudent to carry a rain jacket in September on Wake Island.
Weather in October
October sees partly cloudy skies amid 4.3" (109.2mm) of precipitation in Wake Island. The average temperatures are in the warm 77°F (25°C) to the hot 87°F (30.6°C) range, and the humidity is above 80% during the month. October lies in the storm season, with occasional squalls bringing the majority of the rainfall. Tidal patterns change drastically, and the possibility of destructive waves is always on the cards. The barrier reef protects the lagoon, which is usually resistant to the violent turbulence of the water. The island has several built-in structures to sustain severe storms that are handy during periods of harsh weather. The sunshine lasts for an average of 8 hours, and the daylight lasts slightly less than 12 hours. Expect the wet season to slow down by the end of the month gradually. October rarely sees visitors apart from the essential personnel in Wake Island.
Weather in November
November is a transitional period from the wet to the dry season in Wake Island, with an average rainfall of 2.8" (71.1mm) in the month. The average temperatures drop slightly to register in the warm 76°F (24.4°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range. Wind speeds are in the standard 10 to 20mph (32.2km/h) range during much of the month. There is no real winter season on the island, and the conditions remain mild to warm at the most. The lagoon waters exhibit modest temperatures suitable for swimming and other water activities. Nights are comfortable with the drop in humidity and a decrease in cloud cover. The islands are the place where the day begins in America due to their easternmost location from the mainland. Expect the harsh sun to moderate its intensity with the end of the wet and hot season. The conditions see a favorable change by the end of November in Wake Island.
Weather in December
December sees a pleasant change in conditions in Wake Island, with mostly clear skies, and the end of the storm season. The average low temperature is at a comfortable 74°F (23.3°C), while the average high-temperature registers at a moderate 84°F (28.9°C). Sunny days are numerous, and the island sees an influx of birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Although the sun rays are present, their intensity is at the lowest of the year, and the light breezes make the conditions pleasant. The rainfall is to the tune of 1.8" (45.7mm) and signifies the decisive shift towards the dry season. Light summer clothing is suitable during the day, while a scarf for the wind is useful in the evenings. Nights are generally comfortable with clear skies as the island becomes a perfect place for stargazing. December sees a pleasant change in weather that makes it an excellent period to visit Wake Island.