This Pacific Ocean republic, comprising some 350 small (mostly uninhabited) islands, lies east of the Philippines and north of Indonesia, in the eastern part the Caroline Islands.
Palau experiences very similar conditions of temperature and humidity throughout the year and these are shared with the islands of the other main groups in the western Pacific north of the equator - the Gilbert, Marianas, and Marshall Islands.
All of these island groups have a typical tropical oceanic climate with moderately high temperatures and humidity, which vary little from month to month. The daily range of temperature is quite small - about 4°-5°C/10°F. All have abundant or moderately heavy rainfall with a wetter season from June to November.
Islands near the equator have rainfall more evenly spread throughout the year. The actual amount of rainfall on each island depends on both the altitude of the land and on exposure to the dominant winds: the northeast trade winds in the low-sun period and the southeast monsoon in the high-sun period.
Islands more than 5°N of the equator are liable to experience tropical cyclones (the typhoons of the South China Sea) with their heavy rainfall and very strong winds which can do considerable damage. The main season for such storms is from July to November.
The worst of such storms may only affect one particular island every two or three years, but the much larger area of heavy rain associated with a cyclone contributes to the heavier rainfall of these months.
Palau has moderately large amounts of sunshine, averaging between six and eight hours a day, in spite of a large number of days on which some rain falls. Much of the rainfall is in the form of short, heavy showers, but days with continuous rain are more frequent in the wetter months.
Although the combination of temperature and humidity is often rather muggy and oppressive, particularly at night, daytime temperatures are usually moderate and feel more comfortable because of the brisk winds, both daytime sea breezes and the predominant and regular trade winds.
The tables for Saipan in the Northern Marianas and Ujelang in the Marshall Islands illustrate conditions over a large area of the western Pacific. That for Yaren on Nauru is more typical of islands on or near the equator; here rainfall is more evenly distributed throughout the year and tropical cyclones are never experienced.
© Copyright RM, 2007. All rights reserved. Helicon Publishing is a division of RM.