The Bahamas Overview: Area, Geography, and Climate
Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of State
The Islands of The Bahamas lie between 20 and 27°N latitude and 72 and 79°W longitude. Separated from the North American Continent by the Florida Channel and cooled in the summer by the northeast trade winds, The Bahamas enjoys a moderate climate. During the summer, temperatures rarely rise above 90°F, while the lowest winter temperatures vary between 40 and 50°F. Rainfall ranges between 40-60 inches a year. The Bahamas extends over 100,000 square miles of sea, with slightly less than half lying in the Tropics. The Tropic of Cancer crosses the lower part of Long Island. Contrary to popular belief, The Bahamas is not in the Caribbean, but is in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Bahamas stretch over a distance of some 760 miles from northwest to southeast and includes 30 inhabited islands, 661 cays, and about 2,387 exposed reefs. The total land area is approximately 5,380 square miles, about the size of Wales or two-thirds the size of Massachusetts. The largest island is Andros, with an area of 2,300 square miles and the smallest inhabited island is Spanish Wells, with an area of one-half mile. The highest point is 206-foot high Como Hill on Cat Island. Some of the most beautiful beaches and lagoons in the world are located in The Bahamas.
Over 50 varieties of trees can be found here, including such exotic species as the African tulip, the casuarina, the cork tree, several varieties of palm trees, and about 40 varieties of fruit trees. In addition, large varieties of shrubs, climbers, vines, vegetables, and herbs are found here. There are no significant seasonal changes requiring winter clothing or central heating in the Bahamas. The rainy season is from May to October with an average in Nassau of six inches per month. From November through April, average rainfall is two inches per month. The hurricane season extends from June through November, the greatest risk being in August, September, and October.
In the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 60°F, and usually reach 77°F by mid-afternoon. During the summer, temperatures fluctuate between 85-90°F in the daytime and 75°F or less in the evening. Although humidity can reach about 80% (relative humidity for September is 82%), prevailing easterly winds lessen personal discomfort. Temperatures vary from a low of 76.7°F in January to a high of 89.1°F in August. Humidity causes mildew on leather and textile products, but homes equipped with central air-conditioning or dehumidifiers neutralize the harmful effects.
Rainfall often occurs in the form of fairly intense showers, frequently accompanied by strong, gusty winds. These storms are usually short and are followed by clear skies. Weather conditions can change rapidly. Statistically, a hurricane can be expected to occur in some part of The Bahamas every nine years. The last hurricane (Wilma) passed by to the north in October 2005, and two hurricanes struck in September 2004 (Frances & Jeanne). The Embassy hurricane plan calls for early evacuation of government employees to emergency shelters located on high ground in the central and eastern portions of New Providence. Official communications, as well as ready access to Miami TV and radio stations, provide more than ample early warning of severe weather threats.
Original article is courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, The Bahamas, modified and updated by CaribbeanChoice Staff.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.