The Commonwealth of Dominica is 48 km long and 24 km wide, with an area of 754 square kilometers. It is located between 15o12 and 15o39 N Latitude and 61o14 and 61o29 W Longitude. Dominica is an English-speaking island situated in the Eastern Caribbean between the two French speaking islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Dominica's location and size makes it vulnerable to features of the Tropical Atlantic. These include; the annual migration of the North Atlantic Subtropical High, the spreading of the Tropical Atlantic warm pool, the Easterly Trade Winds, tropical waves, depressions, storms and hurricanes. This results in Dominica being classified as having a Marine Tropical Climate, with very little seasonal variation. The island is very rugged with many of its mountain ranges located along its centre.
The Dominica Meteorological Service maintains an archive of meteorological data recorded at the Canefield and Melville Hall Airports.
The archive is made up of daily and monthly climatological data from the observations of:
- atmospheric pressure
- cloud coverage
- relative humidity
- sunshine hours
- wind speed and direction
Records for Melville Hall Airport date back to October 1968 for rainfall data and 1974 for other elements. Records for Canefield Airport are available from 1982. All records are stored electronically for easy access.
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Rainfall and Temperature
The Melville Hall Airport is located along the windward side (north east coast) and the Canefield Airport is located along the leeward side (south west coast) of the island. Due to their differences in location, the weather conditions experienced at the two stations on any given day can vary significantly. The weather pattern at Melville Hall is greatly influenced by moisture being driven by the Trade Winds across the Atlantic Ocean. Canefield is on the lee side of the island where it is sheltered from the direct effects of the Trade Winds, thus the reason for the much drier and warmer conditions than that observed at Melville hall.
Moisture drifting with the Trade Winds across the Atlantic Ocean interacts with the topography and accounts for the abundance of the orographic rainfall the island receives year round.
The 'dry season' usually runs from January to May and the 'wet season' from June to December. May and December are considered transition months.
As global warming becomes more and more evident around the globe, there are factual evidence on a local scale of increasing annual temperature trends for both Melville Hall and Canefield from the 1980s to present as portrayed in figures 3 and 4.
The average annual relative humidity at Melville Hall is seventy six percent (76%) while at Canefield it is seventy one percent (71%).
The average annual wind at Melville Hall comes from the East South East at an average speed of seven knots (7 kts) or thirteen kilometers per hour (13 km/h). At Canefield, winds are on average from the South East with speed averaging six knots (6 kts) or eleven kilometers per hour (11 km/h).
Annually the mean atmospheric pressure at Melville Hall is on average 1015 millibars, and at Canefield 1014 millibars.