Posted by: Rob Viens | March 16, 2013

Partly Cloudy and 43 Degrees

Much like I have done over the past week, Darwin took a little time off from writing while in the Falklands. His last entry before a short hiatus came on March 10th when he wrote about the weather (among other things)

“In the evening it blew a tremendous gale of wind.— I should never have imagined it possible for such a sea to get up in so few minutes.— The Barometer had given most excellent warning that something uncommon was coming: in the middle of the day it looked like a clear; but at dinner the Captain said the glass says we have not had the worst: about an hour afterwards it reached us in all its fury: The French Brig let go four anchors; the English schooner drove; & a little more would have added another wreck.— At night our Yawl was swamped at her moorings; she did not sink, but was towed on shore & emptied.—some of her gear & sails are lost.” (Mar 10)

In the tradition of earlier entries I thought I’d say a few words about the climate in the islands, where the temperature (in Stanley) at the moment is exactly the same as where I am in the Seattle area – 43°F.  And the forecast for the next few days is also identical – partly cloudy with lows in the low 40’s and highs in the upper 50’s.  Granted it is almost the first day of spring here, and just about the beginning of fall there.

The weather report, live from Stanley in the Falkland Islands (from Weather Underground):

Find more about Weather in Stanley, FK
Click for weather forecast

This similarity got me curious – is the weather in the Falkland Islands rally that similar to Seattle?  Actually, as it turns out, they are not that different.

In the Falklands, much like in Tierra del Fuego, temperatures do not vary much throughout the year.  In winter, average lows touch the freezing mark and average highs are around 40°F (~5°C) (this is much like Seattle). However, summers are much milder than in the Pacific Northwest, with average temperatures ranging from about 40-55°F (~5-13°C) in Stanley.

Rainfall is typical for a maritime climate, with the driest months (southern springtime) averaging about 1.6 inches (~40 mm) per month and summer/fall averaging about 2.4 inches (~60 mm) per month. Annual precipitation in Stanley is about 27 inches (~680 mm). (Rainfall in my neck of the woods is a little higher – about 35 inches (~890 mm) a year.)

Climate graphs for the Stanley in the Falkland Islands (from World Weather and Climate Information)

Climate graphs for Stanley, Falkland Islands

On the Köppen Climate Classification (see Plants, Precipitation and Plates), both the Falklands and the Pacific Northwest are considered “maritime” climates.  The main difference is that Seattle is (thankfully) classified as a “dry summer/Mediterranean” climate (Csb), while the Falklands are considered “subpolar” (Cfc) – largely due to the milder summers. This difference is not surprising considering the cold Antarctic waters that help regulate the temperature in the southern Atlantic.

I can only imagine that on this night in 1833, as Darwin was visiting Port Louis (just north of Stanley) that he was experiencing the cool wet day very similar to my own.  It is one of those things that makes me feel just a little more connected to him across the centuries. (RJV)


  1. I guess we are weather-mates…

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