Coming to St. Maarten is as much of a weather shock as it is a culture shock for many Americans and Canadians coming here for the first time. So here, I’d like to answer some questions about the weather.
What is the temperature like in St. Maarten?
I come from Georgia where the temperature fluctuates from the 90°s in the summer to the 30°s during the winter. Here in St. Maarten, the temperature stays pretty constant year round! During the summer the temperatures range from 80°F to 88°F while during the winter, it ranges from 75° to 83°. When I first arrived on the island last august, I was so surprised that despite St. Maarten being closer to the equator, it was noticeably cooler than Georgia. The trade winds that we get blowing from the east also helps cool down the environment even further.
So what can you do during the cold winter months in St. Maarten?
- Wear shorts and sandals and sport your favorite T-shirt.
- Go swimming or lay out in the sun on Mullet Bay Beach.
- Eat some ice cream or sip on a cold smoothie, outside.
- Turn on your air conditioner in your apartment.
Are there seasons in St. Maarten?
There are really only two seasons here: wet season (during the summer and fall) and dry season (during the winter and spring). In Georgia when it rains, it rains for the whole day. During the “wet season” in St. Maarten, it rains more frequently, close to every day at one point, but usually never more than a few minutes each time (unless there is a hurricane or tropical storm, which I’ll talk about in the next section). The rains are so short and sporadic that it is actually not uncommon to see both rain and shine at the same time!
When do the hurricanes come?
The hurricane come in late summer, just at the peak of the “wet season.” Although hurricanes run through the Atlantic every year, they do not always hit St. Maarten. Since coming here I have not experienced one yet. The last hurricane to hit St. Maarten was Hurricane Omar in 2008. It was Category 4 and hit St. Maarten almost straight on!
The worst weather we got last year during the wet season was Tropical Storm Erika, which was actually quite mild to my surprise. It was windy, but never to the point of blowing off roof shingles or knocking down tree limbs. It never got as serious to the point of the school canceling classes. It rained for a few days but it was on-and-off, and never for the whole day. I’ve concluded that a tropical storm is probably just like any other regular storm you’ll find in the States, except it’s over the tropics. Either that or we just got lucky.
Whenever we hear of a storm or hurricane coming, we usually go to StormPulse to track and predict their paths.
Is it safe to stay on campus during a hurricane?
Yes. Campus is probably the safest place to stay during a hurricane. While the industry standard is 6”, the buildings on campus are constructed with 12” thick reinforced roof concrete slabs. The glass used for the windows are also impact-resistant. Overall, the buildings are designed to withstand Category 4 hurricanes, so no worries about anything blowing off anytime soon!
In addition, we have our own power generator and water desalination plant as well as 10 days worth of food stored up for everyone just in case it takes some time for the island to get back up after a major storm. The AUC campus is a hurricane shelter and will offer students who live off campus a safe place to stay, store their important items, and keep their pets in the event of a hurricane.