The weather in Haiti always seems to be a question people ask me so I thought I’d take a minute to talk about it and how it affects what we do here. I heard the other day that the sun shines here 364 days a year, I believe it! I have yet to see a completely gray day here like I see in Indiana. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t clouds, but the ones that are normal are those white fluffy ones we see in the summer. They have two seasons; the dry season and the rainy season plus, the ever popular and overlapping, Hurricane season (July-October).
The dry season is December through April, when day temperatures are in the 70s-80s F and nights are in the 60s-70s F. This is when the dust is prevalent. Most of Haiti is devoid of trees as it was deforested several years ago, that is a completely different blog story! This deforestation has caused massive erosion to the land and makes the countryside barren, dusty and rocky. Many people prefer to travel to Haiti at this time because it is still warm in despite being cold in other parts of the world. There used to be tourism, but that stopped about 20-30 years ago, yet another story to tell at another time. Now missionaries seem to be the only outsiders here and some still prefer the dry season for comfort.
The average temperature in Haiti is considered by many to be warm, if not hot. It stays approximately the same throughout the year in terms of degrees, averaging somewhere around eighty degrees most of the time, although it may vary by about ten degrees in either direction. However, the humidity changes greatly throughout the year, so it often feels much hotter than it actually is measured to be.
The humidity and rain also vary greatly depending upon the part of Haiti. Average rainfall in the rainy spots is over fifty inches per year while there are some areas which get almost no rain at all. In general, there are two different rainy seasons occurring. The first rainy season takes place in late spring, usually around May, and the other comes in the fall. Even during the rainy season, the days are usually fairly sunny, with rain falling mostly at night. The air is usually thick with humidity on these days, though, and this is when it feels warmest.
We are now in late May and the rainy season has started. Over the past week it has rained every evening/night. Some are just light showers lasting 20-30 minutes others are heavy downpours lasting a couple of hours. It feels like a blessing as the front moves through and the air cools but we pay for it the next day. Today, for example, it was 92F with a heat index of 111F.
The weather affects medical care also. For Liz’s wound care area, it means different dressing and wraps. With the high humidity the occlusive dressings cause more skin breakdown. This can be in the existing wound or in any area under the dressing where the moisture builds up. Remember, it is very common for the majority of Haitians to walk several miles a day. So the weather along with body heat and sweat combine for the perfect storm of bad wound care. For my side of emergent care, the humid weather causes an increase of respiratory incidents. Also noted is an increase of trauma as the roads become slick with the rain soaked oily paved roads. Plus the more rural roads become muddy, slick and treacherous.
The weather is a factor in most everything we do here. Yes it’s sunny and warm, plus I get to look out at the beautiful Caribbean Sea everyday but that doesn’t mean it’s easy here. I often say, nothing is easy in Haiti, and that’s the honest truth. The biggest thing we drill into visiting missionary teams is to stay hydrated. I’ve started countless IVs for rehydration on team members along with Haitians. Still, I love it here and wouldn’t change my decision for anything. Thanks to God and his wisdom for guiding us here.
If you would like to follow the weather here try this link: http://www.accuweather.com/en-us/ht/ouest/port-au-prince/quick-look.aspx#