Our monthly newsletter contains health and financial news, expat articles, social media recommendations and more.
Dominican Republic - Climate and Weather
The Dominican Republic's shores have a natural border with the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. The famous Mona Passage is a channel that is 130 km wide, separating the country from neighboring Puerto Rico. The country's geographical coordinates are 19°00'N 70°40'W. From the 48,670 km² of total area, land occupies 48,320 km² and water 350 km². The coastline is 1,288 km long.
The terrain consists of rugged highlands and mountains with some fertile valleys. Among the rivers on the island, it's worth mentioning some significant ones, such as Jimani River, Rio Yaque del Norte, Rio Jamao del Norte, Rio Isabela and the Ozama River. The lowest point is Lago Enriquillo at -46 m, while the highest one is Pico Duarte which is 3,098 m above sea level.
The main natural resources in the Dominican Republic are nickel, bauxite, gold and silver. As the country lies in the middle of the hurricane belt, the major natural hazards are severe storms that can last from June to October. Other dangerous occurrences are occasional flooding and periodic droughts. The country's current environmental issues are water shortages and the soil which is eroding into the sea, damaging coral reefs. Deforestation is also a huge problem here, as well as the damage that was caused by Hurricane Georges.
The Dominican Republic has a tropical maritime climate. The average temperature is 25°C (77°F). It is significantly cooler in the mountains, where the average temperature is around 18°C (64.4°F). During the year, it is mostly sunny and warm, but as in every tropical country, there are some long rainy periods. On the northern coast the rainy season can last from November to January and from May to November, while in the other parts of the country it mostly lasts just from May to November.
The temperature in the Dominican Republic is quite high throughout the year, especially in the plains. During the summer season, which is from May to October, the heat is sweltering, while in winter, it is more pleasant, but still a little humid. The coldest month of the year is January with the lowest average temperature of 20°C (68°F), and the highest of around 29°C (84°F). The warmest month is August, with the lowest average of 23°C (73°F), and the highest average of 32°C (90°F).
Rainfall and humidity
The average annual rainfall is around 60 inches, but it largely varies from region to region. In the North East there's a larger amount of rain compared to other areas. The typical weather in this country includes blue skies, a few clouds and a light breeze. Rain mostly appears in the afternoon and at night. When it's raining, it's predominantly a tropical downpour with occasional thunderstorms. Humidity can be a problem during the summer period. When combined with really high temperatures in July and August, it can be really uncomfortable for both locals and visitors.
The solution to this heavy tropical weather can be found in light clothing. During the hottest period of the year, it's best to wear some cotton slacks, light t-shirts and sandals. Local people mostly choose to dress formally and clothes like shorts are rarely an option for them. In the working environment, they usually choose to wear short or long sleeved shirts, with long trousers for both men and women. In the wintertime, as the humidity is much lower, the temperature can drop to 18°C at night. During this period, it's wise to wear a sweater for the evenings, and maybe some socks and shoes for cooler winter months as well.
Storms and hurricanes
The Dominican Republic is located in the hurricane region, so the hurricane season can last from May to late November, but the heaviest period is from August to October. Hurricanes usually strike the country every year, and 65% of them impact the region along the southern coast. However, these mostly appear as tropical storms or category-one hurricanes. The last major natural hazards occurred in 1979, when category-five hurricane David struck the country, and in 1996, when category-four Hurricane Georges arrived. All expats should be well informed about these occurrences in order to make the necessary preparations such as charging their cell phones, preparing torches and candles, and stocking up on necessities (medicines, drinking water, cooking gas, ensuring petrol for a car).
Earthquakes represent yet another natural hazard in the Dominican Republic. The seismic activity happens almost on a daily basis, but it is not severe. Sometimes it is so light that it cannot be felt or even detected. Two major fault lines run through the island. One is the North Hispanola Trench and the other is Spetentrional Fault Zone, which is the center of the majority of earthquakes in the Dominican Republic. There's also one fault line below the Mona Passage, the channel between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Often seismic activity occurs in this area. The biggest earthquake in recent history was 8.1 in Nagua in the northern part of the island. It struck on August 15, 1946.
Read more about this country