As the Caribbean Region’s 2020 Heat Season draws to a close, the record shows us how excessive heat is becoming the norm


BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS.– A number of heat records were broken in the

Caribbean in 2020. Notably, in September, Dominica, Grenada and Puerto Rico broke their national/territorial all-time high temperature records. On September 15th, Canefield in Dominica recorded a daytime high temperature of 35.7°C. One day later, Point Salines in Grenada recorded 34°C. According to the US National Weather Service, Aguirre in Puerto Rico recorded 100°F (37.8°C) on September 17th.

The Caribbean Heat Season, the time of the year during which most heatwaves occur, has since 1995 been from May to October since about 1995. The peak period occurs during the months of August and September when high humidity coupled with reduced wind speeds increases heat discomfort.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) -- with the support of the sixteen National Meteorological Services of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization, as well as, the National Meteorological Services of Aruba, Curaçao, The Bahamas, Cuba, France, Sint Maarten, Suriname and the United States – analyzed the intense heat recorded in 2020.

According to CIMH Climatologist Dr. Cédric Van Meerbeeck, September 2020 was the warmest of any month in the historical record in terms of daytime high temperatures in Aruba (34.3°C), Mabaruma, Guyana (33.4°C), at Martinique’s international airport (32.9°C) and in Saint Lucia (32.4°C at the Hewanorra International Airport). Also, Freeport in The Bahamas, Dominica, and Tobago recorded their warmest September since at least 1980, 1975, and 1968, respectively.

When looking at heatwaves, Dr. Van Meerbeeck details that heat exposure increases with more extreme heat -- for instance with higher temperatures -- and with increasing duration. A practical definition of heatwaves used in the Caribbean is “a period of at least two consecutive heatwave days. That is, when daytime high temperature on each of these days is within the top ten percent of the historical record.” While the number of heatwave days varies across the region and within country, most Caribbean residents spent considerably more days enduring heatwaves this year than the historical norm.