St. John 2005 Rain Fall Already Almost 20 Inches Above Year-to-Date Average

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Recent heavy rains create a waterfall in Cinnamon Bay Gut as it crosses North shore Road in the V.I. National Park.

October’s frequent downpours have left the ground damper, the hillsides greener and launched a popular umbrella trend across the island, but the wet weather has also pushed the year-to-date rainfall of 50.05 inches – a whopping 19 inches above the year-to-date average on St. John.

Trunk Bay received 12 inches of rain from October 1–18, putting it well above the month’s average rainfall which is a mere 4.92 inches, according to Rafe Boulon, chief of resource management for the V.I. National Park.

The year-to-date rainfall for 2005 is already above the island’s average annual rainfall of 43.83 inches, reported Boulon, who has been recording the rain fall levels at Trunk Bay for the past 22 years.

“Everything we’re getting from now on is added onto our above average year,” said Boulon.

November, statistically the wettest month of the year, averages 6.77 inches – a small amount when compared to October 2005.

“This means another very wet year,” said Boulon. “This is the third consecutive very wet year.”

The island’s annual rainfall average of 43.83 inches was also surpassed in 2003 with 67.52 inches and in 2004 with 56.02 inches.

So what does all of this wet weather mean?

“There will be a lot more weeds, more growth and lusher vegetation,” said Boulon. The heavy rains also increase erosion and sediment input into the bays, he added.

But there is also a major benefit that the underwater resources will be reaping.

“The cooler water temperatures brought on by the rain, the overcasts and the cool water being washed in from the north swells will influence the coral reefs,” said Boulon.

This August and September experienced unusually high water temperatures which caused a full-blown bleaching episode in the underwater coral reefs, according to Boulon.

Bleaching of coral reefs can occur when the sea water temperature is elevated and there are high light levels, causing the microscopic plants within the coral to be expelled or lose pigment, resulting in corals that appear pale or white.

“If these water temperatures stay cool, nutrients will be reabsorbed and color will be restored within weeks or months,” said Boulon.