Two types of climate are found on Jamaica. An upland tropical climate prevails on the windward side of the mountains, whereas a semiarid climate predominates on the leeward side. Warm trade winds from the east and northeast bring rainfall throughout the year. The rainfall is heaviest from May to October, with peaks in those two months. The average rainfall is 196 centimeters per year. Rainfall is much greater in the mountain areas facing the north and east, however. Where the higher elevations of the John Crow Mountains and the Blue Mountains catch the rain from the moisture-laden winds, rainfall exceeds 508 centimeters per year. Since the southwestern half of the island lies in the rain shadow of the mountains, it has a semiarid climate and receives fewer than 762 millimeters of rainfall annually.
Temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year, averaging 25°C to 30°C in the lowlands and 15°C to 22°C at higher elevations. Temperatures may dip to below 10°C at the peaks of the Blue Mountains. The island receives, in addition to the northeast trade winds, refreshing onshore breezes during the day and cooling offshore breezes at night. These are known on Jamaica as the "Doctor Breeze" and the "Undertaker's Breeze," respectively.
Jamaica lies at the edge of the hurricane track; as a result, the island usually experiences only indirect storm damage. Hurricanes occasionally score direct hits on the islands, however. In 1980, for example, Hurricane Allen destroyed nearly all Jamaica's banana crop.
Although most of Jamaica's native vegetation has been stripped in order to make room for cultivation, some areas have been left virtually undisturbed since the time of Columbus. Indigenous vegetation can be found along the northern coast from Rio Bueno to Discovery Bay, in the highest parts of the Blue Mountains, and in the heart of the Cockpit Country.
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