Weathering the Weather by American Retiree in Jamaica

With Jamaica located in the tropics, most people tend to think of the island’s weather as constant balmy breezes, and blazing sun.  While this is true most of the time, we do have our changing weather patterns, like rainy season.  This was a big concern of ours in planning our several vacations before we made the big move.  If you ask 10 people when is rainy season, you’ll get 10 different answers.  Generally it is thought to be in April and October, both of which were the times we wanted to vacation here.  No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on a tropical island without being able to enjoy the good weather.  We were lucky to have been blessed with the balmy breezes and blazing sun on most of the trips.

Rainy season in Jamaica is not monsoons day in and day out.  Usually it is confined to brief occasional showers in the afternoon.  A typical day during rainy season starts out like any other day with a beautiful sunrise against the clear blue sky.  Absolutely perfect!  This usually lasts until shortly after noontime.  That’s when, in a matter of a half hour or so, the blue skies are replaced with ominous looking black and gray clouds.  This is followed by an increase in the normally tranquil breeze.  The smell of rain is in the air filling your nostrils with the fresh clean smell.  Often these little storms are preceded by thunder and lightning, but not always.  As quick as they come, they are gone for another day.
As I write this article, a shower has come and gone in a matter of about a half hour.  I could see this one coming.  No thunder and lightning to usher it in this time but as the wind swirled about me, I looked up from my yard work to see a wide band of rain perhaps a mile or so away heading straight towards me.  I had just enough time to finish what I was doing, gather my tools, and get safely in the garage before the skies opened up.
Our normal sunny days can be very boring to those of you who like four seasons every year, but not me.  I enjoy the relatively even temperatures day in and day out.  From my home, which is about 4 miles from the center of Montego Bay and set up a few hundred feet on the side of a hill, the daytime temperature varies from the 80’s in the winter to the mid 90’s in the summer.  The night time fluctuation is about 10 – 15 degrees cooler.  The coldest early morning temperature we have experienced was 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  To my wife and I that is cold!  We sit around wearing long sleeved tops and long pants to ward off the chill in the air.  Anyone feel sorry for us having to endure such hardships?  We kid our Jamaican friends that we are going to buy a winter home in St. Lucia where it is closer to the equator and warmer.
The hardest thing to get accustomed to is the humidity.  Ours is not unlike the hotdog days of summer we have experienced living in New England.  The key to survival is getting used to it.  Our bedroom has an air conditioner but we haven’t used it since our first week in Jamaica.  That’s how fast it took us to adjust.  That’s not saying the humidity never bothers us.  There are many times during the summer when the power goes out and we sit on the veranda with beads of perspiration running down our face.  As a tourist, I used to marvel at the staff of the hotel working hard with their faces and exposed skin glistening wet from the humidity.  Today, as I work around the yard with a sweatband on my head, I barely notice my sweat soaked shirt and pants.  As long as my eyes stay dry, no problem.
The danger of hurricanes was embedded deep in my mind from friends in New England when they found out we wanted to make Jamaica home.  With each vacation, I would seek out natives about this danger.  The one constant response I got was that the last hurricane was Gilbert in 1988.  That sounded pretty safe to me.  Two years after we arrived, Ivan swooped down on Jamaica with a vengeance.  I am now very cautious when I hear that a hurricane could possibly hit the island.  Fortunately for us, the only damage was from a breadfruit tree that fell taking a small piece of flashing from the edge of the roof.
It is safe to say I love the weather in my tropical paradise as much as I love the wonderful people and beautiful land.  Jamaica has been my home for over six years and I have enjoyed every magnificent minute of it, rain or shine.  Later…