Weatherwatch: the mild climate of St Helena, Napoleon’s last place of exile

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Famous as Napoleon’s last place of exile – and where he died in May 1821 – the island of St Helena lies in the South Atlantic, 15 degrees south of the equator and roughly two-thirds of the way across the ocean from South America to Africa.

Like another island group in the region, Tristan da Cunha to the south, St Helena has a very mild, oceanic climate. Average temperatures in summer range from lows of 15C (59F) to highs of 21C (70F); though at times can reach 34C (93F) in the capital, Jamestown.

In winter, average temperatures drop to between 12C (54F) and 16C (61F); though with a constantly blowing wind, with typical speeds ranging between 15 and 30km/h, it often feels considerably cooler.

Sheltered from the prevailing south-easterly trade winds, Jamestown gets only about 10.5cm (just over 4in) of rainfall a year; but higher areas of the island can receive as much as 100cm (39in).

Most of the rain falls either in March (the “Lent rains”) or August, known by the locals as “scruffy August”. In 2018, 106mm fell that month, the wettest on record. On 26 April 2017, 48.6mm (almost 2in) of rain fell, though two years later, 2019, was the driest year since records first began, more than 30 years earlier.

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